Middle East News
Clashes kills three, wound 30 in northern Lebanon (2nd Roundup)
Jun 22, 2008, 17:49 GMT
Beirut - At least three persons were killed and 30 others wounded in clashes that raged Sunday in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli between the country's Hezbollah-led opposition and partisans for the ruling majority.
Hospital sources in northern Lebanon said the three people were killed by sniper fire, and a police source said most of the wounded were also victims of sniper fire directed from rooftop nests in neighbourhood of Baal Mohsen, a pro-opposition stronghold.
The clashes started two hours after unidentified assailants in Baal Mohsen hurled hand grenades into neighbouring Bab al-Tebana, a predominantly Sunni Muslim district backing Saad Hariri's Mustaqbal Movement, which is part of the Western-backed majority.
Mortars, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers and automatic rifles were used in the confrontation, police reported.
Tabbaneh residents said the thuds of exploding RPGs and mortar rounds echoed across the city accompanied by machine gunfire, and ambulances evacuated victims to Tripoli's hospital as scores of families in Tabbaneh fled their apartments.
Mortar rounds and RPGs scored hits in residential apartments, setting some ablaze.
Security remained fragile as the army threatened to withdraw from areas where clashes still occurred, witnesses said. However, they said later that the situation had calmed down after the army formed a dividing line between the conflicting parties.
The clashes came as Prime Minister Fouad Seniora intensified his efforts to form a national unity government in the wake of a long- running political standoff.
Similar clashes have been taking place across Lebanon for the past two weeks between supporters the opposition and the majority, despite the May 21 agreement made in Doha, Qatar that Lebanon's rival parties would stop using the streets to settle their differences.
Lebanon was on the brink of civil war before the deal was sealed and Michel Suleiman elected as president.