Hizbullah's masses blocked roads with rubble and burning tires, cutting the capital off from its airport and from the rest of the country. In addition, the government opposition, led by Hizbullah, announced a general strike. The riots began at 6 AM local time, and plumes of smoke formed a black cloud over the city soon after.

Nine people have been reported injured in shooting, including one dead.

Thousands of pro-Syrian, Hizbullah and other elements have staged Beirut street protests and sit-ins for nearly two months. Camped outside Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's office, they wish to topple his government, install a new unity administration and hold early elections. Hizbullah leader Nasrallah has been making fiery speeches, calling the current government of a part of the "Zionist-American conspiracy."

Most main roads inside Beirut were blocked Tuesday morning, as were the highways linking the capital to north and south Lebanon and to the Syrian capital Damascus.

Most shops, schools and businesses were closed in Beirut, but it was difficult to tell whether they were shut because people supported the strike or because the proprietors could not reach their stores.

Lebanese security forces struggled to open roads, but reportedly made little effort to intervene in Hizbullah's south Beirut stronghold.