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Sectarian clashes continue in Lebanon

Latest update : 2008-06-23

Sectarian fighting raged for a second day in north Lebanon on Monday, further denting last month's Qatari-brokered accord to end the country's political crisis.(Report: R.Ranucci)

One person was killed on Monday in fierce sectarian clashes that erupted at the weekend in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, bringing the death toll to six, a security official told AFP.
  
Fighters in the densely populated Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen districts traded heavy machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades as the army sought to contain the violence.
  
Several homes as well as a gas station were on fire as people fled the area or hid in underground shelters.
  
On Sunday at least four people were killed and 33 wounded when the fighting erupted, pitting Sunni supporters of the ruling majority against Alawites loyal to the Hezbollah-led opposition. One of those wounded died on Monday.
  
Another 55-year-old man was killed early Monday by a stray bullet as he drove along the main highway linking Tripoli with Syria. One man was also injured.
  
The clashes were taking place despite an agreement on Sunday between representatives of the feuding parties for gunmen to keep off the streets and for the army to take charge of security.
  
The violence also comes amid stalled efforts by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora to form a government of national unity following a deal last month that ended an 18-month political crisis that brought the country close to civil war.
  
Fears have mounted in recent days that the security situation could deteriorate with clashes erupting in various parts of the country between supporters of the Western-backed majority and the opposition backed by Syria and Iran.
  
The security situation in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps is also of concern in light of several incidents, notably in the largest camp of Ain al-Helweh, considered a hotbed for Islamist extremists.
  
Sectarian clashes in various parts of the country in May left at least 65 people dead stoking fears that Lebanon, which endured 15 years of civil war up to 1990, was heading for a new conflict.
  
An accord reached in the Qatari capital Doha on May 21 between the opposition and ruling coalition resulted in the election of Michel Sleiman as president, ending a six-month vacuum in the top job.
  
But the initial euphoria that greeted Sleiman's election has been replaced by a growing sense of doom as rival factions continue to bicker over the formation of the new government.
  
The Doha accords calls for the opposition to have veto power over key decisions in the new cabinet and the drafting of a new electoral law ahead of legislative elections due next year.

Date created : 2008-06-23

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