June 22, 2008 / 8:03 AM / 9 years ago

Three dead, 30 wounded in north Lebanon clashes

<p>A Lebanese Sunni Muslim gunman runs on a street in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, June 22, 2008.Omar Ibrahim</p>

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - At least three people were killed and 30 wounded on Sunday in sectarian clashes in Lebanon's second largest city Tripoli, security sources said.

Explosions and machinegun fire rocked the city as Sunni Muslim supporters of the government and Alawite gunmen close to the Hezbollah-led opposition battled on the outskirts of the mainly Sunni Muslim port.

Lebanese army units deployed in the area and tried to end the fighting and local leaders held talks to contain the conflict. Dozens of families fled the scene of the clashes that tapered off after both sides agreed a ceasefire, the sources said.

Several homes, shops and cars were damaged in the clashes that left the streets of the city largely deserted.

<p>Lebanese Sunni Muslim gunmen walk on a street in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, June 22, 2008.Omar Ibrahim</p>

It was not immediately clear how the fighting began at dawn but tension has been high in recent weeks between the Sunni Bab Tibbaneh district and Alawite Jabal Mohsen.

Tripoli is dominated by the country's anti-Syrian Sunni-led majority coalition while a majority of Alawites maintain close ties to Syria, which is ruled by an Alawite.

In a separate incident, a bomb seriously wounded a senior official of the Islamist Jund al-Sham group at Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon. Another Islamist was wounded in the blast, security sources said.

Last month Lebanon ended its 18-month political crisis with the Western-backed coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition reaching a Qatari-mediated accord. The conflict had led to a violent showdown between the two sides.

Since then there have been frequent minor security incidents between supporters of the opposing factions. Delays in the formation of a national unity government as stipulated in last month's accord, have raised fears of a further deterioration in the security situation.

Writing by Nadim Ladki

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