BEIRUT — Christian and Muslim forces battled with artillery and rockets Sunday in a new violation of an Arab-mediated cease-fire as the casualty toll from 24 hours of fighting climbed to 20 dead and 145 wounded, Lebanese authorities said.
Police said army regulars and the militias engaged in eight hours of nonstop exchanges, pounding neighborhoods in both Syrian-policed West Beirut and the Christian eastern sector with mortar, howitzer and rocket barrages.
The violence spread to dozens of Christian and Muslim villages in mountains and hills around the city while Arab League officials discussed whether to send an observer team to enforce the cease-fire.
Police and witnesses said hundreds of rockets and shells blazed through the darkened skies across the so-called Green Line dividing the city, damaging dozens of apartment buildings, destroying cars and igniting fires.
The renewed shelling, which shattered a morning lull, followed six hours of savage bombardments late Saturday that killed 16 people, wounded 80 others and prompted hundreds of families to flee, police and witnesses said. Four people were killed and 65 others were wounded Sunday, police said.
Authorities said the violence began when militia members in Syrian-controlled West Beirut began firing rockets at two Christian-held harbors north of the city. The fighting spread, with shells crashing into residential neighborhoods in Christian areas. The army regulars then began firing salvos into Beirut's Syrian-controlled southern suburbs.