TRIPOLI // Two people were killed and 41 wounded in overnight clashes between rival sectarian camps in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli, a security official reported. Fighting intensified on Wednesday morning after erupting late on Tuesday in the Bab al-Tebbaneh district where dozens of residents were fleeing their homes. "A resident of the Jabal Mohsen district and a passer-by caught in crossfire were killed on Wednesday in clashes," the official said, adding that 41 people were wounded during the fighting.
"The wounded belong to both the Sunni and Alawite rival camps," he added. The official, who had earlier reported that one of those wounded was a Lebanese soldier, said Lebanese Armed Forces were ordered "to increase patrols and arrest anyone who threatens the public security even if the use of force is necessary." The fighting took place on a main road separating the areas of Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen the scene of sectarian fighting two weeks ago that left nine dead and 45 injured.
The army could not be reached for comment. The security official reported that explosions could be heard in the area around 9.30pm on Tuesday, followed by single shots being fired, before the clashes subsided. Witnesses said that fighting once again started at around 4.30am on Wednesday with the sounds of rocket and machine gunfire being heard. They added that more people were thought to be wounded overnight but could not be taken to hospital because of the intensity of the clashes.
Most Bab al-Tebbaneh residents are Sunni supporters of the government backed by the West and most Arab states, while Jabal Mohsen has a majority which supports the Syrian and Iranian backed opposition from the Alawite Muslim sect, a branch of Shiism. The fighting that took place two weeks ago in the area was the worst since the clashes that erupted in different parts of the country in May that left 65 dead, raising fears of an outbreak of civil war.
The latest fighting comes as political parties work to form a national unity government as called for by a deal brokered in the Qatari capital of Doha on May 21. The government has yet to be formed because of continued bickering over cabinet posts. *AFP