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Death Toll from Sectarian Fighting in Lebanon Rises

Authorities in Lebanon say at least two people are dead after gunmen opened fire on a funeral procession Saturday in the violence-wracked capital of Beirut.

The attack occurred as mourners were carrying the body of a 24-year-old man killed in this week's clashes between Hezbollah and supporters of Lebanon's U.S.-backed government.

The latest incident shattered the relative calm in Beirut after three days of deadly sectarian fighting. Hezbollah and its Shi'ite allies seized control of many western Beirut neighborhoods from pro-government Sunnis.

At least 20 people have been killed in Lebanon since fighting broke out Wednesday.

Lebanon's ruling pro-Western March 14th Coalition says the takeover of western Beirut amounts to a "bloody coup" against national unity and the democratic system.

The White House on Friday denounced Iran and Syria - Hezbollah's chief patrons - for supporting the group's actions. A spokesman for U.S. President George Bush says the administration will continue to work through diplomatic channels to end the violence.

Mr. Bush will discuss the crisis with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora during talks in Egypt next week.

Saudi Arabia, which backs the Lebanese government, is calling for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers, which could take place as soon as Sunday.

Lebanon has been in a political stalemate since last year, with the ruling coalition and the opposition unable to pick a new head of state and form a unity government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.