Hezbollah tightens grip on Lebanese government

May 8th, 2008 - 9:21 pm ICT by admin  

Beirut, May 8 (DPA) Hezbollah-led opposition supporters tightened their grip on the Lebanese government Thursday by closing all major roads leading to the capital, isolating neighbourhoods inside the capital from each other. At least one person was killed and four were wounded in the east of the country as clashes were registered between government and opposition supporters.

Lebanese army and riot police manned checkpoints throughout the city and blocked several roads while many schools and businesses in the capital remained shut for the second straight day.

Members of the Shia Amal movement carrying machineguns were seen in areas under their control.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of Hezbollah, gave a press conference in Beirut’s southern suburbs to announce his radical Shia movement’s upcoming actions against the Western-backed government.

“Lebanon is not the same after the deemed cabinet session,” he said, referring to the government’s decision on Tuesday to launch a probe into a private telephone network set up by Hezbollah.

The government has accused the group of placing surveillance cameras around the airport to monitor the comings and goings of pro-government politicians.

The cabinet also reassigned the head of airport security over allegations that he was close to Hezbollah.

Nasrallah defended what he termed “a necessity communication network” set up by his group to protect the security of its leadership.

He stressed that the communication network is part of the “resistance weapons.”

Meanwhile, clashes spread out of Beirut and erupted in Saadnayel, near the eastern town of Chtaura, as government backers and opposition supporters exchanged gunfire, killing one person and wounding four.

Sunni Muslim followers loyal to majority leader Saad Hariri closed the main highway linking Beirut with Damascus. The main coastal road leading to south Lebanon was blocked by followers of the ruling majority as well.

Blocking the road between Beirut and Syria appeared to be a response by government supporters to the shutdown of Beirut airport by the opposition.

The clashes started Wednesday during what was supposed to be a general strike called by the main labour union over price increases and wage demands.

Lebanon is passing through its worst crisis since the country’s 15-year civil war ended in 1990. The political division has left the country without a president since November when pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his mandate with no elected successor.

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