In Beirut, rightwing Lebanese and Armenian gunmen mounted joint patrols in eastern districts on Thursday (13 September) to enforce a cease-fire following three days of bloody street fighting.
In Beirut, rightwing Lebanese and Armenian gunmen mounted joint patrols in eastern districts on Thursday (13 September) to enforce a cease-fire following three days of bloody street fighting. Security source said at least thirty people had been killed and many wounded before an uneasy truce on Wednesday (12 September) night halted the clashes between militiamen of the Armenian Tashnaq party and the Lebanese Phalangist and National Liberal parties.
SYNOPSIS: The fighting erupted in the Bourj Hamnoud-Nabaa area of East Beirut on Monday (10 September) and rapidly escalated with anti-tank rockets, heavy machineguns and automatic rifles shattering the peace in the Armenian sector. The Armenian Tashnaq party blamed Lebanese Front militias for the violence and reported that fifteen Armenians had been kidnapped and later found murdered. But the Phalangist party claims the Armenians started the conflict by sniping on civilian targets.
Security officials said that lebanese Front Militiamen blew up around twenty shops and restaurants belonging to Armenians in what was claimed to be a crackdown on gambling and narcotics dens, but they could not say which side had actually started the bout of violence. An Armenian church was turned into a hospital for the injured.
At least thirty people are reported to have died of their wounds. Some Armenians claim the militias launched a campaign of terror to force them to abandon the neutrality them maintained throughout the 1975-1976 civil war.
Armenians say many of their community have fled the area in fear of being kidnapped, shot or shelled. A member of the community commented on the situation:
Beshir Gemayel, Commander of the joint militias of the Lebanese Front expressed his regret at the recent expressed his regret at the recent developments and blamed them foreign agents who want to keep Lebanon unstable. He said that although talks between the Armenians and lebanese rightists on Wednesday (12 September) had produced encouraging results, there was no guarantee that violence would not erupt again. Following the arrival of joint peacekeeping patrols on Thursday (13 September) the area was quiet but tense. Bulldozers were removing barricades and roads leading the battle zones were being reopened to traffic.