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Anti-government vigil raises tensions in Lebanon

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Anti-government vigil raises tensions in Lebanon


Another night – another huge gathering as opposition protesters in Beirut continue their campaign to bring down the government. They have set up camp outside the capital’s complex of official buildings. And its there that tributes were paid to a slain demonstrator – hailed by some as a martyr. This was the end of day five of the campaign. And Hezbollah and its allies are determined to stay put. The battle of wills pits them against the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora.

Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity, hundreds of his supporters joined the embattled leader, to show they’re with him all the way. Holed up inside his office, Siniora maintains he won’t be forced out. He has condemned Sunday’s killing of the young pro-Syrian protester, calling for dialogue with the opposition. But with both sides entrenched, the fear is this crisis could intensify – plunging Lebanon into yet another civil war.

Tension was high as Ahmed Mahmoud was buried. A pro-Syrian Shi’ite Muslim, he was shot dead in a Sunni district while returning from a rally. As mourners gathered, a warning came from Lebanon’s army commander. He was quoted as saying the daily protests risk getting out of hand – and that his forces might be unable to keep the peace.

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