ALEX COHEN, host:
From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Cohen. Madeleine Brand is on assignment.
Coming up, protestors in rural China face-off with police over the country's strict family planning policies. But first...
(Soundbite of gunfire)
COHEN: That is the sound of gunfire at a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. The Lebanese army has been fighting with militants there, and now in a camp in the south of the country as well. So far, the fighting has claimed more than 50 lives. And in Tripoli, Lebanon today, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the building where 10 Fatah al-Islam fighters died in a clash with security forces over this past weekend. Mira Minkara is a sales executive and a former tour guide living in Tripoli.
Ms. MIRA MINKARA (Resident, Tripoli, Lebanon): I'm at my place right now at home.
COHEN: And you're home is just a few blocks away from the building where the suicide bomber blew himself up.
Ms. MINKARA: Yes. In fact, we hear a lot of bombs and shooting, so we don't know what's the difference between them anymore. At the beginning, the first day, like at 3:30 AM when I just woke up at the sound of the shootings at the building, that was scary. But the thing is that we thought that it would stop at some point when they just circled the buildings. And they were still shooting and there were ambulances and everything. So we kind of got, you know, scared because, I mean, why didn't they catch them.
We didn't think that they would be so strong and so stubborn about holding themselves in this building. And we were worried also about our sons and family around the streets, you know. But, I mean, it's getting more and more violent with the bombs in Beirut, and it's getting us so stressed and frustrated and angry, you know, like we don't need this this summer again.
COHEN: Mira, could you describe what a typical day in Tripoli might be like if this violence weren't going on today?
Ms. MINKARA: A typical day? I would have gone to work. I would have finalized with my clients about advertising. And I would go out, I don't know, like, visit my friends or go out, you know, just on a walk to the sea, I don't know. I mean, the second city after Beirut, but it's a busy city. People would be more on the streets. Cars would be more - even shops, half of them are closed. I wanted to buy a cell phone and now I can't because it's closed.
COHEN: Mira, how long have you lived in Lebanon for?
Ms. MINKARA: Since '89. Because I was in the Emirates when I was a child.
COHEN: That's quite sometime. Have you thought at all about leaving Lebanon?
Ms. MINKARA: Yes, several times. But every time I try to go, I mean, especially to the Gulf, because it's a better place and it's an easier place for you to work, I just go back. I mean, Lebanon is a beautiful, beautiful country. It's like heaven for us, you know, the weather, everything, the people. It's a beautiful country but it's damned, so that's the problem.
COHEN: So do you think - despite how violent it's become, do you think you'll stay?
Ms. MINKARA: You know, I'm not scared at all. My mother told me not to go down to the street, but I just went and I walked. It's not about being scared, it's about being - I'm capable to have a normal life, you know. I'm capable to have a stable job. That is the main problem.
I'm working as a sales executive in a magazine now and we're like trying to plan for a fair, you know, like a beauty care fair. And now with this situation, I guess we're going to postpone this fair. I mean, nothing works normally in this situation.
COHEN: Mira Minkara lives in Tripoli. Thank you so much for joining us.
Ms. MINKARA: You're welcome.