(photo credit: )
The Lebanese army, struggling to restore order to Beirut streets after hours of violence Thursday, has called a nighttime curfew in the Lebanese capital, a military official said.
The official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media, told The Associated Press that the curfew would take effect 8:30 p.m. (18:30GMT) Thursday and last until 6 a.m. (0400GMT) Friday.
Int'l donors pledge billions for Lebanese gov't
Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah called on his followers to clear the street to allow security forces to maintain order on Thursday evening.
Government and opposition supporters clashed at a Beirut university campus Thursday, battering each other with sticks, stones and even pieces of furniture in new violence spilling over from Lebanon's political crisis. One person was reported dead.
Black smoke poured into the sky from cars engulfed in flames as armored vehicles full of troops moved in to try to keep the two sides apart. But the riot spread into the nearby streets around Beirut Arab University as students smashed parked cars and battled for hours.
The battle grew out of an argument between pro-government Sunni Muslims and supporters of the Shi'ite Hizbullah opposition movement in the university cafeteria, students said.
As the melee grew, Hizbullah supporters called in help, and residents from the surrounding Sunni neighborhood joined in. Dozens of vigilantes wearing blue and red construction hats and carrying makeshift weapons - chair legs, pipes, garden tools, sticks and chains - converged on the university and started clashing with the police.
The army was called in with armored vehicles and fired tear gas and live fire in the air to disperse the crowd.
Hizbullah's al-Manar TV reported one of the Shiite group's supporters was killed. Security officials could not confirm the death but reported 17 people injured. Other TV stations reported that about 25 people were hurt.
The growing street battle illustrated Lebanon's struggle to contain violence sparked by the power struggle between the Hizbullah-led opposition and the US-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. Many fear the violence could spiral out of control and even plunge the country into a new civil war.
The university melee came two days after a general strike called by the opposition turned into the worst day of violence since the political crisis began. The strike sparked opposition-government clashes around the country that killed three people and took on a dangerous sectarian tone, with fights between Sunni Muslims and Shiites.
Saniora on Thursday was in Paris at a conference of donor nations that promised more than $7 billion in aid to rebuild after this summer's devastating Hizbullah-Israel war. The money aims to boost Saniora's government, but the chaos at home has raised doubts whether his government can properly use the money.