09 July 2008

* Clashes again in the North

Tripoli - Clashes raged in Lebanon’s
northern capital Wednesday between minority and majority supporters, killing at least four people and wounding 53, according to police and hospital records.
tripoli clashes 4 killed.jpg
Reports also said four Lebanese Army soldiers were wounded by sniper fire in addition to a police officer.
The fatalities were identified as Youssef Trabolsi who was shot in the head by a sniper’s bullet, Mohammed Bahij, a Palestinian, and Layla al-Shami, who passed away from a heart attack suffered when a shell scored a direct hit on her apartment.
The Zahra Hospital in Baal Mohsen district confirmed that a dead man was admitted to its morgue but refused to identify him.
The clashes, in which rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine
guns were used, pitted Baal Mohsen against neighboring Bab Tabbaneh.
Smoke billowed from apartment buildings in Bab Tabbaneh hit by RPGs as fire engines and ambulances, sirens wailing, rushed to combat the blaze and evacuate casualties.
Sniper fire from roof-top nests in Baal Mohsen blocked traffic across several main streets in Tripoli and led the state-run Lebanese University to freeze exams.
Education Minister Khaled Qabbani said other exams in Tripoli would persist Wednesday, but students who fail to reach schools would be given “follow-up exams” at a later date, which he did not set.
Army and police units were preparing for redeployment in the contested neighborhoods to contain the deterioration.


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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.