UPDATE 1-Gunmen shoot up Lebanese minister's convoy

TRIPOLI, Lebanon an 18 Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:05am EST

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TRIPOLI, Lebanon an 18 (Reuters) - Gunmen ambushed the convoy of a Lebanese government minister in the northern city of Tripoli on Friday, wounding three people and riddling a security patrol car with bullets, medics and witnesses said.

The official, Minister of Sports and Youth Faisal Karami, appeared to be unhurt, the medics said.

A Reuters reporter said one of the convoy's patrol cars was set ablaze.

The attack coincided with a weekly protest demanding the release of several Islamists detained in Lebanese prisons.

The port city of Tripoli has long been a stronghold of Sunni Islamists in northern Lebanon.

But the city has become increasingly volatile in recent months due to the civil war in neighbouring Syria, where the Sunni majority is leading a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Supporters of either side have clashed frequently, heightening fears that the war is spilling over into Lebanon.

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