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Leading Lebanese TV station attacked in Beirut

BEIRUT — Masked men attacked the headquarters of a leading Lebanese TV station with burning tires after it hosted a hard-line Sunni Muslim cleric who harshly criticized the country's Shiite Muslim leaders, police said Tuesday.

Video footage of the Monday night attack taken by security cameras and broadcast on local television showed five masked figures assaulting the headquarters of Al-Jadeed TV in Beirut.

The attackers also fired several shots at the building, police said, leaving it damaged only lightly and causing no casualties. Police officials said the attack came in response to the secular channel's interview with Sunni cleric Sheik Ahmad al-Aseer, the Associated Press reported. One suspect was in custody.

Ibrahim Dsouki, who runs the station's website, said it was knocked out of service for several hours due to another, online attack.

The incident comes at a time of rising tensions between Lebanon's Sunni and Shiite communities, exacerbated by the uprising in Syria. Many Shiites in Lebanon support the regime of President Bashar Assad, who is a member of the Alawite sect, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam. Many Sunnis on the other hand oppose Assad and support the predominantly Sunni Syrian opposition.

Guards at the television station detained the suspect, whose pants caught fire during the attack, and handed him over to police, officials said.

The man's detention sparked an angry protest in the central neighborhood of Zoqaq Blat, where dozens rallied in his support, blocking roads and burning tires.

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