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Hezbollah forces shut down pro-govt TV in Lebanon, newspaper office set ablaze

Hezbollah forces shut down pro-government TV in Lebanon, newspaper office set ablaze
Shut down: Lebanese soldiers and police guard the building of Future News television after it was forced to shut by Hezbollah gunmen in Beirut May 9, 2008. Gunmen loyal to Hezbollah forced the pro-government Future News television off the air on Friday, a senior official at the Beirut station told Reuters. Hezbollah gunmen took control of large areas of Beirut on Friday in a third day of fighting between the pro-Iranian group and fighters loyal to the U.S.- backed governing coalition.Photo: Reuters / Fadi Ghalioum

Gunmen loyal to Hezbollah forced the pro-government Future News television off the air on Friday. Future News is owned by Saad al-Hariri, leader of Lebanon's US-backed ruling coalition.

"An army officer accompanied by members of Hezbollah walked into the station and told us to switch off transmission. We are off the air," an official told Reuters anonymously.

The offices of Hariri's al-Mustaqbal newspaper were also reportedly set ablaze by opposition gunmen, according to BBC.

"Armed gunmen surrounded the building, stormed into the garage and demanded through the army the shutdown of the station," the head of Future News Nadim Moulla told Agence France-Presse (AFP). "We decided to place the matter in the hands of the army."

Fierce clashes between supporters of the US-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition have rocked a number of neighbourhoods in west Beirut in the last three days leaving seven people dead and dozens injured.

Saad Hariri, the leader of the government's bloc in parliament, is the son of the late former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose 2005 assassination sparked protests that brought the current government to power and led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops, a CNN backgrounder recollected.

The violence, said a Bloomberg report, erupted May 7 after the government threatened to dismantle a secret Hezbollah telecommunications network and fired the head of airport security when an electronic surveillance system, also run by Hezbollah, was discovered at the airport.

Hassan Nasrallah, who heads Hezbollah, which fought a 33- day war against Israel in 2006, said the communications were needed to defend Lebanon against Israeli invasion. Nasrallah called the government actions a "declaration of war.''

Hezbollah has been trying to unseat the Siniora government for 18 months, since it walked out of the cabinet after demanding veto powers over government decisions, and the past three days of unrest have been the most violent of the standoff.

Date posted: May 9, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 872