At least six killed in Palestinian faction clashes in Lebanon
At least six people were killed in two days of clashes in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, where the mainstream faction Fatah fought against rival groups that support Islamist movements, security sources said.
A Fatah commander was killed on Sunday in an ambush that also injured several of his aides in the crowded, impoverished Ain el-Hilweh camp near the southern coastal city of Sidon.
Four of the aides later died of their injuries, a security source said, adding that sporadic clashes in the camp intensified later on Sunday.
Clashes began the previous day with a failed assassination attempt on a leader of a group sympathetic to hardliners in which one person was killed. That was followed by gunfire and attacks by armed fighters on the headquarters of Fatah.
Fighting subsided but did not completely stop after a ceasefire was reached at a meeting between rival Palestinian factions that included representatives of pro-Iranian Hezbollah group and its ally Shia Amal movement that hold sway in southern Lebanon.
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Shops had earlier closed their doors and some people fled the camp, the largest refugee camp in Lebanon, as tensions between the rival groups mounted on Sunday, a witness said. The Lebanese army said a mortar fell inside a military headquarters with one soldier wounded.
The UN agency responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees that provides basic services to nearly 50,000 people living in Ain el-Hilweh said it was suspending all operations in the camp.
Dorothee Klaus, direct of Unrwa in Lebanon, said in a message on the X messaging platform that the agency called “on all militant parties to ensure civilians’ safety and respect inviolability of UN premises”, adding that the clashes damaged two schools run by the UN agency.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned his country was again paying a price as “an arena to settle foreign scores”.
The camp has regularly seen factional disputes spiral into deadly violence. Some 400,000 refugees live in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps, which date back to Israel’s creation on Palestinian land in 1948. The camps mainly lie outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services.