Brawl in South Lebanon pits local residents against Syrian workers
Scuffles erupted Tuesday October 23 between Syrian workers who were cutting off illegal phone lines and local residents from the south Lebanese village of Khiam, witnesses said.
Some 40 Syrians and Lebanese were involved in a brawl, which caused a few light injuries before it was broken up by police. A dozen Syrian workers employed by the Swedish telephone manufacturer and operator Ericsson, which is currently upgrading South Lebanon's landline network, started cutting off illegal lines set up by Khiam villagers.
Some furious residents demanded that the Syrian workers leave, before fist fights erupted, prompting the intervention by police, who made several arrests. On Monday night, a Syrian Ericsson employee was killed in the nearby village of Kleia, when he stepped on a landmine laid by Israel before its May 2000 troop pull-out.
Since the end of Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon, hundreds of workers from neighboring Syria, which exercises strong political control over Lebanon, have been flocking to the region hoping to find jobs.
Their numbers have increased sharply over the past few months, often sparking resentment among the southern Lebanese population, which blames them for stealing the jobs of local labor force by accepting lower salaries. — (AFP, Marjayoun)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)