Beirut — The Lebanese government arranged a cease-fire in this divided capital Wednesday after savage exchanges of artillery and rocket fire left a heavy casualty toll here and fighting raged in other parts of the country.
For 2 1/2 hours, shells and bullets poured across the demarcation line separating the predominantly Christian eastern part of Beirut from the Muslim western section.
Local sources said at least three people were killed and some 20 injured in west Beirut. The right-ing Falangist Party radio, the east, spoke of 22 casualties.
State-run Radio Beirut said President Elias Sarkis helped in the efforts to arrange the cease-fire, which came into force at 6:30 p.m. (local time) without an official announcement.
A Falangist spokesman said the rightist militia stopped shooting when the cease-fire started but continued to come under sporadic fire from Syrian peacekeeping troops in west Beirut for about an hour longer.
The cease-fire also appeared to apply to the easteem town of Zahle, where fighting had resumed after several days of relative quiet. The town was the scene of heavy fighting earlier this month bet ween rightist forces and Syrian troops.