BEIRUT — A 7-year-old girl and three other civilians were killed and 33 people were wounded in 24 hours of sporadic artillery battles between Christian and Muslim militias east and south of Beirut, police said Monday.
The fighting occurred on the hills overlooking the eastern flank of the Lebanese capital and in the Kharoub region that abuts Israel's occupation zone in south Lebanon, police said.
Three of the dead and 25 of the wounded were passengers of a ferry that was fired upon from Druze militia positions in the hills above the Christian port of Jiye in the Kharoub as the boat docked Sunday, according to police. Only 12 passengers of the ferry escaped unharmed, the report added.
In Beirut, relatives of civil war kidnap victims used rocks and burning tires to block all crossings between the city's Muslim and Christian sectors for a fifth straight day Monday. A committee supervising the protest said the relatives would keep up their campaign until the government makes a "convincing effort" to determine the fate of their loved ones.
Meantime, a six-man council of military commanders fixed Wednesday as the date on which the army will begin to take control of the key coastal highway between this capital and the front line of Israel's occupation troops at the Awwali River in southern Lebanon.
The council and a liaison committee of militia representatives agreed that a "total cease-fire" would shortly be declared in Lebanon and that the first two phases of securing the coastal road would commence, council sources said.
In the first phase, to start Wednesday, Christian and Druze militias that control the coastal road should take their weapons out of the area and mines will be cleared, the sources said.
After that, members of the paramilitary Internal Security Forces will take positions southward along the road as far as the town of Damour, 11 miles south of Beirut, removing barricades and roadblocks.
No details were disclosed about plans for securing the last 12 miles of highway between Damour and the Israeli lines. The highway has been closed for 10 months.
Earlier plans to secure the coastal road have been repeatedly blocked by objections from Christian and Druze leaders and by battles in the Kharoub coastal region along the highway. The Druze are followers of an offshoot sect of Islam.