BEIRUT -- Thousands of protesting students in Lebanon called on their government to take action yesterday against a recent wave of terrorist bombings, including one over the weekend that wounded a prominent journalist opposed to Syria's role in the country.
Lebanon's interior minister, Hassan Sabei, acknowledged that the government has been struggling to keep the country secure against what he called ''some kind of phantom."
May Chidiac, a veteran news anchor and talk show host, lost her left arm and leg after a bomb exploded in her car Sunday.
Chidiac was attacked in the town of Jounieh, north of Beirut. Doctors said Chidiac was in intensive care.
Chidiac, who is in her 40s, works for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, a popular private station at home and abroad. It opposes a Syrian role in Lebanon.
The attack on the broadcaster, and the demonstrations, were reminiscent of an upheaval this year, when protests after the assassination in February of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister, forced the Syrian-backed government to resign, and Damascus to withdraw its army.
This time the political landscape is different. Anti-Syrian groups are now in government. They are sharing power with some of Syria's allies, and are divided among themselves.
Hundreds of students at the private Notre Dame University, where Chidiac teaches journalism, and at other university campuses began the protests. They had been called by student groups representing Christian and Muslim political factions opposed to Syria.
The students demanded that the Syrian security system be rooted out, and said that system was responsible for the bombings.
''Let us immediately act to confront this terrorist monster, and finish off the remnants of the security system," the students said in a statement, referring to forces whom Syria and its Lebanese allies have long used to control the country.
Yesterday afternoon, politicians and journalists joined about 4,000 students on a seaside square in central Beirut for a moment of silence and a prayer for Chidiac's recovery.
Flanking a bullet-scarred statue, a symbol of Lebanon's quest for independence, many waved Lebanese flags as well as those of Christian groups such as the Phalange Party and the Lebanese Forces, as well as the Democratic Left movement.
A man carrying a sign reading ''Enough" along with a symbol of the cross and the Koran, Islam's holy book.
About 50 veiled Shi'ite Muslim female students from Hezbollah, a pro-Syrian group, joined the protest in solidarity. Some carried pictures of Chidiac.
''We will confront the terrorism with the weapons of national unity and we will confront the criminals with a peaceful, political revolution," Daniel Spiro, a student leader from the Lebanese Forces, a Christian group, told the crowd.
The Lebanese are awaiting the findings of a UN investigation into the murder of Hariri. That could implicate Syria and some of its allies in Lebanon, raising fears of more violence as the inquiry nears its conclusion in late October.
The chairman of Chidiac's broadcasting network, Pierre Daher, said the station would not be cowed by the attack and criticized the government's failure to halt the wave of bombings.
Sabei, the interior minister, acknowledged the government was finding it difficult to break the chain of attacks.
''We are facing some kind of phantom, a certain person or party, who are professionals and who have hatched a terrorist plot and are carrying it out," he said.