January 5, 2014 / 3:33 PM / 6 years ago

Sniper fire kills one as clashes flare in Lebanon's Tripoli

BEIRUT (Reuters) - One man was shot dead and six people were wounded in clashes on Sunday in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli between districts that support rival sides in neighboring Syria’s civil war.

Medical and security sources said sniper fire killed the civilian from Tripoli’s Sunni Muslim Bab al-Tabbaneh district, whose residents overwhelmingly support the Sunni rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Two others from the area were wounded in the fighting, in addition to four people from the Alawite neighborhood of Jebel Mohsen, which supports the Alawite Syrian leader.

The latest fighting erupted in the Tripoli neighborhoods adjacent to Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jebel Mohsen, where clashes have flared several times in recent months, killing dozens.

Soldiers were deployed to the districts last month following another episode of violence in Tripoli, 30 km (20 miles) from the Syrian border, where divisions reflect the sectarian gulf across Lebanon over Syria’s civil war.

Tensions between the Sunni Muslim majority and small Alawite community in the city have festered for decades and it has seen some of the heaviest violence in Lebanon in the past year.

On Saturday, the funeral was held in the village of Hnaider close to the Syrian border for the suspected suicide bomber in Thursday’s attack on the southern suburbs of Beirut.

A Reuters photographer in the village said gunmen prevented journalists from attending the ceremony and reported heavy gunfire in the area.

The army identified the perpetrator as 19-year-old Qutaiba Mohamad al-Satem. Lebanese media reported he was in his second year of university as a civil engineering student.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which claimed responsibility for the attack that killed at least five people, said it had targeted Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah.

ISIL, an al Qaeda affiliate, is fighting to topple Assad and establish an Islamic state in Syria, while Hezbollah has sent fighters to support the government there.

Reporting By Stephen Kalin; Editing by Sophie Hares

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