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Two Lebanese Hospitals Hit In Fierce Shelling

May 9, 1989

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A Christian hospital and a Moslem hospital were shelled in fierce fighting across this divided city, and four people were killed, including two patients, police said today.

Police said 20 people also were wounded in the shelling barrages, which subsided into sporadic exchanges at daybreak today and intensified again later.

Since March 8, when the current round of fighing broke out between Gen. Michel Aoun’s Christian army units and an alliance of Syrian and Druse forces, 320 people have been killed and 1,204 wounded.

The artillery battles also threaten efforts by the Arab League to revive a truce called on April 29 that held briefly before fighting resumed.

A police spokesman said at least 12 howitzer and mortar rounds hit the Barbir Hospital in Moslem west Beirut and its surroundings late Monday.

He said one shell slammed into the hospital’s lobby as patients were being moved to an underground shelter. The attack killed Mohammed Mosallam, an administrator, and Bilal Daher, a reporter.

Daher, 25, a Sunni Moslem, was ″trying to evacuate his elder brother Ouday, also a reporter, from his third-floor room to the underground shelter,″ said the spokesman. The elder Daher had been hospitalized with a broken leg.

Crews swept out glass shards and debris at the hospital as several nurses and doctors wiped away tears, reporters said.

The police spokesman, who cannot be identified under standing rules, said St. Louis Hospital in the Christian port of Jounieh north of Beirut also took several direct howitzer hits but that no casualties were reported. The spokesman said the patients were ″already in the underground shelter when the hospital was hit.″

Elsewhere in the city, post offices and communications facilities also were hit, knocking out local and overseas telephone links, he said.

To help fill the gap, the leftist Voice of the People radio broadcast messages from people in Beirut to relatives in other parts of Lebanon.

Only a few civilians ventured out of basements and underground shelters to check their property for shelling damage.

About 31,000 shells and rockets have been fired on Beirut’s Moslem and Christian sectors since the non-stop artillery duel began Saturday evening, the police spokesman said.

The Moslem-run Voice of the Nation and other radio stations said Arab League envoy Lakhdar Ibrahimi of Algeria, trying to reach Lebanon to salvage the cease-fire, was stranded in Rome by an airport strike.

The rival factions in Lebanon’s 14-year-old civil war accepted the league- sponsored truce last week. But a reliable source in west Beirut said the Syrians resumed shelling to prevent three Iraqi ships loaded with weapons from resupplying the Christians.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the ships ″have been cruising the Mediterranean off the Christian enclave’s coast since Friday.″

Iraq supports Aoun’s 20,000 troops, most of whom are Christians, in the confrontation with Syrian forces and the Moslem Druse militia of Druse warlord Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party.

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