Ceasefire Temporarily Ends Lebanon Bloodshed

Violence in Lebanon follows assassination of spy chief, spillover from Syria.

A Lebanese woman mourns during the funeral procession of Palestinian Ahmad Queider, 20, who was killed Monday during exchange of gunfire between Lebanese troops and gunmen as he rode his motorcycle, in the Sunni neighborhood of Tarik al-Jadida, Beirut.
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A ceasefire agreed to on Tuesday has temporarily silenced gun battles that have ripped through Lebanon, including one early Tuesday that killed four. Meanwhile, government officials try to prevent the after effects of their spy chief's assassination from drawing the country into neighboring Syria's civil war.

A 9-year-old girl was among those killed in Tripoli on Tuesday, The Daily Mail reports, as Sunni and Shiite Muslims continue to clash in Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city. The military had deployed tanks and armored personnel carriers to quell the violence in the coastal city.

Twelve people were injured in Tuesday's incident, according to the Mail, and another five were killed in southern Lebanon.

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A total of 65 have been injured and 10 killed in the two days of gunfights, Reuters reports, before the Lebanese army was able to negotiate a ceasefire.

Check out these unconfirmed tweets for images from Tripoli:

“@le_kork: #Lebanese Army soldiers deploying in #Tripoli streets, #North of #Lebanon #Beirut #Reuters twitpic.com/b6erzb

— Lebanon News (@lebanonnews) October 22, 2012

14March are calling Hizbullah criminal, while they are doing this: twitter.com/jeanassy/statu…(taken by Reuters,in Tripoli today) #Lebanon

— Jean (@jeanassy) October 20, 2012

#Tripoli : Bab el-Tebbaneh et Jabal Mohsen au son des chenilles @afp (Photo Joseph Eid) #liban bit.ly/OYzq6U twitter.com/LOrientLeJour/…

— L'Orient-Le Jour (@LOrientLeJour) October 23, 2012

Photo: Lebanese Army securing Abdul-Hamid Karami (Al-Nour) square in Tripoli, north #Lebanon (Reuters) twitter.com/jeanassy/statu…

— Jean (@jeanassy) October 23, 2012

The fighting originated from Beirut, where intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan was assassinated last week by a massive car bomb. Protesters continue the violence there, alongside sectarian clashes, according to Reuters.

"Beirut city, itself, the downtown area, is very empty," reports Angus MacSwan, Reuters chief desk editor for the Middle East, of the usually "buzzing" city.

"Shops are closed, cafes are closed," he said on Monday. "The army has issued a very firm statement saying they were not going to let it get out of hand."

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Marwan Charbel, the country's interior minister, announced early Tuesday that the car bomb used to kill al-Hassan was placed in a stolen Toyota RAV 4, according to a CNN update.

This could provide a critical lead in the investigation into the assassination.

An FBI team was heading to Libya Tuesday morning to assist with the investigation. The deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem, responded that this was an internal matter.

Qassem also said early Tuesday the assassination was designed to "incite internal strike" and create instability in the country.

[PHOTOS: Deadly Suicide Bombing Rocks Beirut]

Hezbollah, the militant political party and powerful ally of Syria, dominates Lebanon's government.

Learn more from this CNN blog.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday the department was waiting on the results of the FBI investigation before taking action.

"We're certainly concerned," Toner said in a briefing. "We've been clear for some time about the possibility of a possible spillover effect from the conflict in Syria. But what I can say, as the Secretary said in her call [with Lebanese Prime Minister Mikati] yesterday, is that we are prepared to offer assistance."

The international community has watched the violence with growing concern as the death toll continues to rise, while refugees from neighboring Syria flood into nearby countries.

More than 100,000 are in Lebanon as of Monday, according to a U.N. refugee agency report.

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  • Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at pshinkman@usnews.com