Sporadic Shelling, Power Supplies to Stop
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Christian gunners traded sporadic artillery fire with Syrian forces and Druse allies around Beirut today, and an official said a lack of fuel could halt all electric service to the capital.
Police said there were no casualty reports from the bombardment, which defied a cease-fire called Wednesday by the Arab League to halt the worst civil war fighting in four years.
The clashes, which broke out March 8, have killed 178 people and wounded 604, by police count. The fighting also has devastated power plants, fuel reserve tanks and water pipelines.
The confrontation exacerbated a political crisis that created competing Christian and Moslem governments and further split the army on sectarian lines.
Gen. Michel Aoun leads the Christian government in addition to commanding the 20,000-strong Christian army. The Christian forces are batting an alliance of 7,000 Druse militiamen and Syrian soldiers. Syria has 40,000 troops in Lebanon, most of them in the eastern Bekaa Valley.
Despite the cease-fire, both sides have maintained intermittent firing and air, sea and land blockades.
The main power plant at east Beirut’s Christian suburb of Zouk has run out of oil and could stop generating electricity for greater Beirut ″within hours,″ said Mitri Nammar, director-general of the Beirut Electricty Authority.
Syrian and Druse rockets and mortars have hit Zouk beach, preventing fuel tankers from docking. Power has been cut back to one hour a day.
Lebanon’s latest political crisis began Sept. 22, when Parliament could not agree on a successor to President Amin Gemayel at the end of his six-year term and Gemayel named Aoun to head an interim government.
Moslems rejected the appointment and swore allegiance to Salim Hoss, the Sunni Moslem premier who led the government during Gemayel’s administration.
Under an unwritten national covenant dating to independence from France in 1943, Lebanon’s president is a Christian, the premier a Sunni Moslem and the Parliament speaker a Shiite Moslem.