Hezbollah Protesters Target Beirut Highways Roads in and out of Lebanon's capital are blocked by a general strike organized by the Hezbollah-led opposition. It's part of a continuing campaign urging the pro-Western government of Lebanon to resign.
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Hezbollah Protesters Target Beirut Highways

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Hezbollah Protesters Target Beirut Highways

Hezbollah Protesters Target Beirut Highways

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Beirut, today, is the scene of yet another anti-government protest. Roads across the Lebanese capital are blocked with smoldering tires and blazing cars. It's the start of a general strike called by Hezbollah, which is trying to topple Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government. Reporter Leena Saidi joins us now from Beirut. And welcome to the program.

Ms. LEENA SAIDI (Reporter): Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Describe for us, please, the scene there in Beirut.

Ms. SAIDI: Today we woke up to very thick black smog covering the whole of the capital, as they burnt tires everywhere around the capital. The army has been standing by the protestors as they've done this and they really haven't interfered this much. Most of the day it has been quite calm, but recently, in the past hour or so, we have had four or five incidents in which two political parties - opposing political parties - have been throwing stones at each other and army's had to interfere.

MONTAGNE: Stone throwing - any other violence?

Ms. SAIDI: There has been gunfire heard in various parts of the country, as the army and the internal security forces have fired into the air to keep opposing crowds apart. We know there have been injuries from the stone throwing and we've heard of a couple of gunshot wounds, which we believe could be from random bullets.

MONTAGNE: So now this, the big demonstration and protests are happening in Beirut. What about other parts of the country?

Ms. SAIDI: Throughout the country protests have been happening. They've been happening in the north, they've actually cut off the highway between Beirut and the north until a couple of hours ago when the army intervened to open the highway when two rival Christian parties were facing each other.

Towards the airport, the roads there have been blocked, and people who have been able to land at Beirut Airport have had to actually walk from the airport carrying their luggage. To the south also, the road has been blocked. And the whole of the south, as far as we know, the general strike is taking place.

And towards Damascus and the highway up in the mountains, again, the demonstrators have managed to close these roads. Pro government factions came and basically wanted to pass through the roadblocks. The army did nothing to help them go through and that's when the stone throwing started and that's when the army did intervene and eventually opened certain roads.

MONTAGNE: Well, ultimately, of course, these protests are meant to bring down the government. How likely is that that this is going to happen?

Ms. SAIDI: I don't think, you know, the government is going to be brought down with a one-day general strike. The government has, so far, been very adamant that they were going to continue and they were going to keep on, and they have a huge (unintelligible) conference that will happen at the end at this week in Paris. And it's very important, obviously, for the government to make sure that this (unintelligible) conference comes through.

MONTAGNE: Thank you for joining us.

Ms. SAIDI: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Reporter Leena Saidi speaking from Beirut.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION.

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