World News

Rival Druze gunmen clash in Lebanon

Members of the Ismail family stand on the balcony of their apartment in a bombed-out building on the infamous Green Line in Beirut April 12, 2007. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Rival Druze gunmen clashed in a mountainous village east of Beirut on Friday, wounding two, security sources said on the 32nd anniversary of the start of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

Lebanese civic organizations held gatherings marking the anniversary under the slogan: “Never again”.

The firefight between followers of anti-Syrian leader Walid Jumblatt and pro-Damascus former minister Wiam Wahhab in the village of Majdel Ba’ana was the latest violence to mark Lebanon’s worst political crisis since the war.

Scores of Lebanese army soldiers intervened to end the fighting, the sources said.

Jumblatt, the traditional leader of Lebanese Druze, is a pillar of the majority coalition seeking to end any Syrian influence in Lebanon. Wahhab, also a Druze, is allied to the opposition which includes Hezbollah, an ally of Syria and Iran.

The Western-backed majority and the opposition have been at loggerheads for the past five months over the latter’s demands for veto power in government.

There is also deadlock over the establishment of an international court to prosecute suspects in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Scattered violence between supporters of the two sides have killed 10 people and injured around 400, raising fears Lebanon was sliding towards instability.

The civil strife, which began on April 13, 1975, included Syrian and Israeli military interventions, killed around 150,000 people and destroyed much of Lebanon’s infrastructure.