A Lebanese prosecutor has charged three army officers and 16 soldiers for their role in the killing of opposition protesters during street violence last month in Beirut.

The prosecutor's office announced that two officers and 11 soldiers were charged with manslaughter for firing into the crowd during the January 27 protest against electricity rationing. Court papers say six of the protesters died in the shooting.

It is unclear who killed a seventh victim during the unrest.

Reuter news agency says one officer and five soldiers are also charged with disobeying military orders.

In addition, the prosecutor charged about 60 civilians for rioting and attacking soldiers.

A well-known activist from the Shi'ite opposition Amal movement was among those killed in the protests.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since late November, when the term of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud expired. The leadership vacuum is due to a standoff between the pro-Western governing coalition and pro-Syrian opposition.

The two sides have agreed on an Arab League plan calling for the election of army General Michel Sulieman as president. But they differ on how to form a new national unity government.

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