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Relatives burn tires after Lebanon sectarian clash

Relatives burn tires after Lebanon sectarian clash

Relatives angry over the fatal shooting of a Lebanese woman in a clash between rival Sunnis and Shiites in a Beirut neighborhood burned tires and briefly blocked a road Monday, in a sign of the country's lingering tensions as it struggles to form a unity government.
The brief protest came despite heavy deployment of troops in mixed Sunni-Shiite districts of the Lebanese capital to prevent any renewal of Sunday's outburst _ the first sectarian violence since this month's divisive parliament elections.
The outburst underlined Lebanon's tensions despite pledges by rival political leaders to turn a new page and work together to set up a unity government after the pro-Western coalition beat the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies in the June 7 vote.
The Sunni woman was killed and three men were wounded in a gunbattle Sunday evening between Sunni supporters of Lebanon's prime minister-designate and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri, and rival followers of the Hezbollah-allied Shiite Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
An accidetal bystander, the 30-year-old woman who was shot outside her home in the Aisha Bakkar neighborhood. Her relatives briefly blocked a road with burning tires Monday but the army promptly intervened, opening the road and dispersing the protesters.
Also Monday, armored vehicles were deployed at main intersections in mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods, patrols were visible on the streets and motorists were searched at checkpoints. Garbage collectors removed debris and broken glass in Aisha Bakkar, where witnesses said about 15 parked cars had had their windshields smashed in the violence.
The outburst triggered flashbacks to the May 2008 clashes in Beirut, when the Shiite Hezbollah militants along with Berri's Amal movement swept through Sunni neighborhoods to briefly seize control. The sectarian violence that followed left 81 people dead nationwide and more than 200 wounded. An Arab-brokered political agreement later restored peace and an interim unity government was set up until the June parliament elections.
Although Sunday's gunfight is not expected to derail the latest reconciliation efforts, it showed how tensions could quickly spill onto Lebanese streets.
Western-backed billionaire Hariri, nominated to be the next prime minister, met Monday with heads of parliament blocs as part of the ongoing efforts to set up a national unity government.
Among the challenges Hariri faces is a possible demand by the Hezbollah-led coalition for veto power in the government _ something the pro-Western majority has vowed not to give in to. The militant group and its allies had held veto power in the interim government following the May 2008 fighting.


Updated : 2020-12-05 02:55 GMT+08:00