Gulf Air 'mercy flights' to Beirut
Manama, May 10, 2008
More than 50 stranded Bahrainis in the violence-hit Beirut are to be flown in early this morning in a special Gulf Air Airbus A320.
The airline sent an empty jet to bring home Bahrainis, who had travelled by road from Beirut to Damascus.
Earlier yesterday Gulf Air had upgraded its flight to Damascus to accommodate the stranded Bahrainis, but it took them 12 hours to reach Damascus because of the chaos and fighting.
Twenty Bahrainis are still stranded in Beirut and officials are urging all Bahrainis there to contact the country's office in Beirut.
Bahrain Embassy in Damascus has been gathering information about Bahraini students in Lebanon, Ambassador Waheed Mubarak Al Sayar said.
At least 18 people have been killed and 38 wounded in three days of battles between pro-government gunmen and fighters loyal to Hezbollah, a Shi'ite political movement with a powerful guerrilla army.
The fighting, the worst internal strife since the 1975-90 civil war, erupted this week after the government decided to dismantle Hezbollah's military communications network. The group said the pro-Western government had declared war.