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Europe

EU Condemns Lebanese Violence in Beirut

The European Union strongly condemned the fierce outbreak of violence in Beirut and voiced support for the Lebanese government, the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Friday night.

A Shiite gunman fires with his AK-47 during a gun-buttle in a newly seized neighborhood in Beirut

Recent sectarian clashes in Beirut were reminiscent of Lebanon's bloody civil war

Solana said he had been briefed on the situation by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora and urged all sides to "act responsibly and find a solution to the crisis."

Radical Shiite group Hezbollah and allies took control of broad parts of Beirut on Friday, laid siege to areas that included government buildings and clashed with security forces.

"The EU condemns the last acts of violence in the strongest terms and reaffirms its full support to the Lebanese government," Solana said.

The EU's top diplomat said any solution would have to come "through dialogue and within the national institutions."

Peaceful solution

At least 20 people have been killed and over 50 wounded in the violence that erupted on Wednesday.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier phoned Lebanese Premier Fouad Seniora on Friday to express his concern at what he termed "the escalation of violence."

"I urgently call on all parties to withdraw their armed factions, lay down their weapons and recognise the Lebanese state's exclusive right to use force," Steinmeier said in a statement.

"The developments of the last few days have shown that a resolution to the political conflict in Lebanon cannot wait any longer."

New casualties

At Least four people were killed and 20 wounded in Beirut on Saturday when unidentified gunmen fired at a funeral procession of a Sunni Muslim man killed in the ongoing clashes.

A witness said that as the procession was heading to a cemetery on the outskirts of the Sunni neighborhood of Tarek al Jadideh, they came under fire.

Gunmen were later seen returning to the streets as army soldiers cordoned off the area.

With the escalation of violence this week, Lebanon has seen the the worst sectarian bloodshed since the 1975-1990 civil war.

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