Soldiers were deployed in the Ras al-Nabei, Mazraa and Barboor areas of Beirut after supporters of Saad al-Hariri's Future group had earlier battled with Shia followers of the Hezbollah and Amal blocs, wielding sticks and throwing stones at each other.
 
Scores of Lebanese soldiers and riot police fired into the air to disperse the rioters and there were reports of between three and 14 people being injured.

Your Views

How can the crisis in Lebanon be overcome?

Send us your views

Lebanese television reported that several shops were set on fire, while a security official said one house was burned down and a car was set ablaze by fire bombs.

Tension has been simmering for weeks with smaller scale incidents reported almost on daily basis, and Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said the tensions were rising.

She said residents are worried that daily skirmishes will turn into real battles and they are not sure if the army will intervene to stop clashes every time an incident occurs.

Power struggle

Al-Hariri's ruling coalition is locked in a 15-month-old power struggle against an opposition bloc led by Hezbollah.

The rival groups have failed to agree on the election of a president to replace Emile Lahoud, whose term expired in November.

Large rallies were held by both sides in Beirut on Thursday.

Supporters of the Western-backed government gathered to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafiq al-Hariri.

A few miles away, the funeral of Imad Moghaniyah, one of Hezbollah's senior commanders who was killed in a car bombing in Syria, attracted thousands of supporters.