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Lebanon army clashes with gunmen, kills two in Tripoli: sources

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s army clashed with Sunni Islamist gunmen in the northern city of Tripoli on Friday, killing at least two of the militants, security sources said.

Tripoli has seen some of the worst spillover from Syria’s 3-1/2 year conflict, which has strained sectarian relations in Lebanon and triggered periodic gun battles, bombings and kidnappings across the country.

It was not immediately clear which group the militants represented, or whether they were Lebanese or Syrian, but Syrian rebels and hardline Lebanese Sunni Islamists have regularly accused the Lebanese army of working with Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, which has sent fighters to aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Tensions spiked over the summer when Islamist gunmen from Syria briefly seized the Lebanese border town of Arsal and clashed with the army, killing around 20 soldiers and withdrawing with hostages, many of whom are still being held.

Friday’s fighting occurred just one day after Lebanese soldiers killed three men and arrested several others during a raid on an apartment in the northern town of Asoun. [ID:nL6N0SI26Q]

At least six soldiers - including an officer - were wounded in Friday’s clashes, the security sources said.

Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Alison Williams