Rival gunmen took hostages as the threat of full-scale civil war hung over the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Christmas Eve.
GV Hotel District.
GV PAN Damaged hotels. (3 shots)
SV PAN Broken windows and debris inside building.
SV Security at hotels. (4 shots)
GV Catholic Church, closed.
SV People rebuilding wall. (2 shots)
SV AND GV People and traffic in street. (3 shots)
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Background: Rival gunmen took hostages as the threat of full-scale civil war hung over the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Christmas Eve.
Moslem and Christian gunmen manning mobile roadblock seized bystanders of the opposite faith after checking identity cards which show their religion.
Beirut radio broadcast the latest figures for the number of people abducted, though no-one is sure what sparked off the latest round of kidnappings. Abduction has been a standard technique of rival gunmen in the civil strife, which claimed about 6,5000 lives during 1975.
Hopes of a quiet Christmas for the Christian community, about half the country's population, were dashed by the sudden appearance in Beirut streets of the feared "flying roadblocks" used by the kidnappers.
Beirut radio reported fresh shooting in the centre of the capital.
Several mortar shells landed, but there was no immediate report of casualties.
On Beirut's seafront, workmen bricked up the gutted ground floor of the Phoenecia Hotel, a once elegant hotel.
The workmen said ohe aim was to stop looting, but the hotel had already been stripped by looters taking advantage of the general disorder.
SYNOPSIS: Christmas Eve, in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, and a brief stop to fighting in the heavily-contested hotel area of the city. But in other parts of the capital, at least one hundred people, usually just by-standers, were seized by both Moslem and Christian gunmen at mobile road-blocks. The victims' religion was established by a check of their identity cards.
Kidnapping is a standard technique used by the rival gunmen in the civil strife, which in nineteen seventy five claimed about six thousand five hundred lives. Beirut residents recalled "Black Saturday", eighteen days earlier when a series of street corner abductions and murders started major fighting in the city and suburbs.
Beirut radio reported fresh shooting in the city centre. Several mortar shells landed, but there was no report of casualties. Pledges of leaders earlier in the week to disengage their forces have clearly been abandoned.
Hopes of a quiet Christmas for the Christian community, about half the country's population, were dashed by the sudden appearance of the "flying roadblocks" used by the kidnappers. On Beirut's sea front, workmen bricked up the gutted ground floor of the once-elegant Phoenecia Hotel, which was in the thick of heavy fighting earlier in December.
The chilling stillness of the debris-strewn main streets contrast to the bustle of safer areas, where businessmen and shoppers continue to trade, despite the life and death struggle not far away.