Clashes break out in Beirut after slain official's funeral

By REUTERS
October 22, 2012 02:52

 
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BEIRUT - Gunmen exchanged fire in southern districts of Beirut overnight after the state funeral of an assassinated Lebanese intelligence chief ended in violence when angry mourners broke away and tried to storm the offices of Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

Sunday's clashes fed into a growing political crisis in Lebanon linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Opposition leaders and their supporters accuse Syria of being behind the car bombing that killed Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan on Friday. They say Mikati is too close to Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Lebanese ally Hezbollah, which is part of Mikati's government.

Thousands turned out in downtown Beirut's Martyrs' Square for Hassan's funeral, which also served as a political rally. The violence erupted after an opposition leader demanded that Mikati step down to pave the way for talks on the crisis.

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