- (Photo: Reuters/Hasan Shaaban)
Clashes between pro-opposition mourners and government forces erupted in Beirut on Sunday after the funeral of an assassinated chief intelligence. The violence highlighted how the uprising in Syria has revived sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
Gunmen exchanged fire in southern districts of Beirut overnight after Sunday's funeral of Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, who was killed in a car bombing on Friday, Reuters reported.
The funeral was attended by thousands at Beirut's Martyrs' Square.
Opposition leaders believe Syria was behind the car bombing because Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati is close to Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Lebanese ally Hezbollah, which is part of the ruling government in Lebanon.
The slain official had helped expose a bomb plot that led to the arrest and indictment of a pro-Assad former Lebanese minister in August.
Clashes began after an opposition leader called for prime minister's resignation, and some protesters marched to Mikati's office. They overturned barriers, pulled apart barbed wire coils and threw steel rods, stones and bottle at soldiers and police.
To prevent protesters from entering into the prime minister's offices, security forces shot into air and fired teargas.
While no casualties were reported from Beirut until early Monday, a 9-year-old girl was reportedly killed by a sniper and several others were wounded in clashes in the northern city of Tripoli on Sunday, the newswire said.
Tripoli recently witnessed clashes between Sunnis and Alawites. While Sunnis are against the Syrian president, Alawites support Bashar, who is also an Alawite.
Lebanon's opposition leader Saad al-Hariri sought to discourage protesters from using violence. "We want peace, the government should fall but we want that in a peaceful way. I call on all those who are in the streets to pull back," he said on a television channel.
On Saturday, Mikati said he was willing to resign to allow formation of a government of national unity, but President Michel Suleiman requested him to stay in office to allow time for talks on a way out of the political crisis.