BEIRUT - Three people were killed on Sunday when fighting broke out in the Lebanese coastal city of Sidon between followers of a Sunni Salafist preacher and supporters of the Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla movement Hezbollah, a security official said.

The killings underlined the deepening Shi'ite-Sunni divide in the small but regionally important country, mirroring divisions in neighboring Syria where a Sunni-led revolt against President Bashar al-Assad broke out 20 months ago.

The clash occurred in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh on the edge of Sidon, a mostly Sunni city, when followers of Sheikh Ahmed al-Aseer, who adhere to a puritan interpretation of Islam, began removing banners put up by Hezbollah in advance of Ashura, a Shi'ite religious occasion.

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