Last updated: 13 May, 2012

Deadly sectarian clashes in Lebanon’s Tripoli

One person was killed and seven others were wounded in fresh clashes on Sunday in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli between factions supporting and opposed to the revolt in neighbouring Syria, security sources said.

The man was killed in Bab al-Tebbaneh as residents of the mainly Sunni Muslim district traded gunfire with locals in the Jabal Mohsen area inhabited by Alawites, a Shiite sect of which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a member.

A resident of the largely Sunni district of Kobbe was killed in similar clashes on Saturday, which also left five injured.

In a separate incident, an army officer was killed by sniper fire as clashes broke out on Saturday night between the army and a group of young men demonstrating for the release of a fellow Islamist, the sources said.

Seven people, including a woman and a child, were shot and wounded in less intense fighting on Sunday night despite an accord for the army to be deployed in hotspots, raising the weekend casualty toll to three dead and 17 wounded.

Several residents fled to safer areas as the army deployment was delayed.

Gunfire first broke out on Saturday between the Islamists and the army as the young demonstrators, sympathisers of the revolt in Syria, tried to approach the offices of the pro-Assad Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

About 10O young men blocked the northern and southern roads into Tripoli, setting up camp at the southern entrance of Lebanon’s second city.

Black flags bearing the profession of Islam, “God is Greatest”, were planted alongside the Syrian flag of independence, a symbol of revolt in the neighbouring country.

“We will not leave until my brother is released,” said Nizar al-Mawlawi, whose 27-year-old brother Shadi was arrested by Lebanese security forces.

According to a statement from the security services, Shadi al-Mawlawi was arrested as part of an “investigation into his ties to a terrorist organisation,” without going into details.

Syrian authorities have repeatedly charged that arms and fighters are being smuggled in from Lebanon to help the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.

Lebanon is divided between the opposition, backed by Washington and hostile to the Syrian regime, and the camp of the Shiite group Hezbollah, which dominates the government and is supported by Damascus and Tehran.