Fighters clash in Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon

Fighters supporting the mainstream Fatah party clashed with gunmen suspected of belonging to extremist Islamist parties in Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Sunday.
AIN EL-HILWEH, Lebanon (Reuters) — Sporadic clashes broke out between armed factions in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp on Sunday after the bodyguard of an official there was killed, a witness and security officials said.

Fighters supporting the mainstream Fatah party clashed with gunmen suspected of belonging to extremist Islamist parties, shooting at each other and firing rocket propelled grenades in Ain el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.

Hostility had been running high in the camp, which houses 50,000 refugees, as regional tensions rise. Many in Lebanon worry unrest may spill over the borders as violence increases in neighbouring Syria, where the army is cracking down on an anti-government revolt.

One witness said masked men suspected of being from the Islamist group Jund al-Sham fired at a group of Fatah fighters and officials. He saw fighters carry away a wounded civilian and a Fatah official shot in the shoulder.

Ashraf Qadiri, the bodyguard of a top Palestinian commander, was shot dead on Wednesday, Now Lebanon said.

Qadiri was a bodyguard for Mohammed Abdel Hamid Issa, alias “Al-Lino,” the head of Palestinian party Fatah’s police force in Ain al-Hilweh, according to the Beirut-based news site.

The shooting was the second such incident targeting one of Issa’s bodyguards, Now said.

(www.maannews.net / 18.12.2011)

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