Tensions high in Beirut amid regional talks

January 18, 2011 11:40

BEIRUT — Hezbollah supporters gathered in the streets of Beirut early Tuesday after a UN tribunal filed indictments in the assassination of a former prime minister, prompting several schools to close as nervous parents pulled their children from class.

Associated Press reporters saw at least four gatherings of up to 30 people each, dressed in black and carrying hand-held radios. One gathering was about 400 meters (1,300 feet) from the Grand Serail, the seat of government in downtown Beirut, and security officials closed the roads leading to the building.

Lebanese security officials confirmed the gatherings, which dispersed by late morning and appeared to be a show of force in the hours after a long-awaited indictment was released Monday evening in the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The indictment was sealed and its contents will likely not become public for weeks. But the court is widely expected to accuse members of Hezbollah of being involved in the killing, something the Shiite militant group has insisted it will not accept.

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