San Francisco Call, Volume 111, Number 87, 25 February 1912 — ITALIAN SHIPS SHELL BEIRUT, KILLING SIXTY [ARTICLE]
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ITALIAN SHIPS SHELL BEIRUT, KILLING SIXTY
Several Turkish Gunboats Are Sunk, Custom House and Buildings Damaged
Americans in College Thrown Into Panic, but All Escape Injury
BEIRUT. Syria. Feb. 24 —A flotilla of Italian warships today bombarded this city, killed 60 inhabitants and wounded many other?. They also sank several pmall Turkish gunboats anchored in the port.
Appearing suddenly off the port the commanders of the Italian gunboat Volturno and the armored cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi sent to the authorities a peremptory demand for the surrender of the Turkish gunboats.
Before the provincial governor could deliver his reply or ask for time to negotiate, the cruisers opened fire.
In a short time the Turkish gunboats ■were disabled and in a sinking condition. The custom house was greatly damaged and other buildings also suffered.
Many persons who came within the zone of fire were slaughtered. A panjr set in and the people fled toward the Lebanon hills.
When the Italian vessel? opened ttrt there was almost a panic among the inmates of the American protestant i-ollege. but their fears subsided when was discovered that the gunners were not aiming at the building. Rev. Howard S. Bliss, son of Rev. Dr. Daniel Bliss, the founder of the Protestant t-ollege. is president in actual charge of the institution. None of the American institutions here suffered any injury from the explosion of the shells. The professors, missionaries, students and employes are all safe.
A Turkish cruiser and torpedo boat at anchor in the port were destroyed before the Italian cruiser reased firing. New Plan of Campaign
IX3XDOX, Feb. :.'4.—The reported bombardment of Beirut by the Italians is the first sign of Italian naval activity in the Mediterranean for a long period and appears to be part of the new pian of campaign recently announced. The city has only a small Turkish garrison of 500 infantry. 250 ca*alry and detachments of artillery and engineers. It is not strongly fortified.
In Beirut there is a. large foreign j population, most of ,wli|m are Chris- i tians.: and there are 3$ . churches of various Christian denomination?. -: The American Presbyterian mission has been active in Beirut for nearly a century. It possesses a "church, a Sunday school, a girls' school and a printing: office. where it publishes a weekly newspaper ami a"; monthly magazine. Spread over the province are about 150 other schools connected with American missions, with many thousand pupils. Three married missionaries, with their wives, one bachelor missionary and five ■women missionaries are engaged in the work of the society in Syria. The Seventh Day Adventist missionary board has four,missionaries in the country, while, belonging to the Syrian Protestant college in the city of ,Beirut (an institution generally known as the American college), there are 750- students under the instruction of 50 professors," 30 of whom are American citizens. ' V.. Arabs Combine 'With Turks ,
PARIS. Feb. 24.—An Italian force was defeated by Turks and Arabs aftT a violent combat February 22 at Zenzur. a coast town 14 miles west of Tripoli, according to dispatches rereived here today from correspondents of the Temp?. The Italians sent out a strong column from Tripoli with the intention of occupying the oasis of Zenzur, and as soon as this movement was discovered the Turks advanced to meet the enemy. A fierce battle lasting- three hours was fought and the Italians were forced to retreat. In the engagement the Turks were aided by Arabs, who attacked the Italian left. Forts Reply to Guns CONSTANTINOPLE. Feb. 24.— According to the latest dispatches from F>pirut. the fort*. 1, the Turkish corvette Avniliah and a torpedo boat replied to the Italian fire during today's bombardment. The Avnillah was struck and soon was in flames. The torpedo boat wa.-> sunk. No ffwer than 30 persons were killed. two of the dead, it is believed, beinsr Kusslan subjects.. About sft persons •were wounded. Several shells w«f* dropped into the town and the offices of the Ottoman bank were damaged. Neither of the Turkish vessels was Tinder steam at the time and, according to a dispatch from the governor of Beirut, the Italian ships opened fire without giving time for a reply to their demand for surrender. During the panic that followed a mob forced the government armory and stole arms. The Italian warships at the conclusion of the bombardment steamed away for a.n unknown destination.
News of the bombardment caused a panic on the bourse, resulting in a fall of consols. It is believed that the Italians will continue their attacks on other coast towns.
Official circles here believe that the object of the Italians was to provoke Moslem fanaticism and thus bring about a massacre of the Christians in Beirut.
The Turkish government today sent * circular to the powers declaring its determination to close the Dardanelles and expel all Italians of whatever class from Turkey, in consequence of the Italian naval activity la the Aegean ■ea.