Officials: Fighting breaks out in northern Lebanon

Pro- and anti-gov't supporters clash near Tripoli; at least 1 dead and 18 wounded.

lebanese army 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
lebanese army 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Fighting broke out in northern Lebanon on Sunday between pro- and anti-government supporters leaving at least one person dead and 18 wounded, security and medical officials said. Tension has been on the rise for several days between pro-government supporters in Tripoli's Bab el-Tabaneh district and opposition supporters in the neighboring Jabal Mohsen, according to the security officials. They said machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades were used the clashes, which started around 4 a.m. Medical officials said the body of man killed in the fighting was taken to Tripoli's Islamic Hospital. The wounded were taken to several hospitals in the city, Lebanon's second largest, they said. A military official said the fighting had eased before noon Sunday and the army was sending reinforcements to the area. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to speak to the media. The area witnessed heavy fighting last month when pro-government gunmen and armed men loyal to the Hizbullah-led opposition clashed in different parts of the country. On Tuesday, clashes in the eastern Bekaa Valley left three people dead and four wounded. The latest deaths raise the number of people killed in violence since last month to 85. More than 200 have been wounded. An Arab-mediated deal in May got Lebanon's Western-backed parliament majority and the Hizbullah-led opposition to agree to form a national unity government and halt the spiraling political crisis that had escalated into violence and pushed Lebanon to the brink of a new civil war. The deal, signed May 21 in Doha, Qatar, calls for forming 30-member Cabinet in which Hizbullah and its opposition allies have veto power over government decisions. Former army chief, Michel Suleiman, was elected by parliament as a consensus president and sworn in four days after the agreement was signed. But tension has been increasing in recent weeks because Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora has been facing difficulties forming the new Cabinet. On Saturday, Saniora rejected opposition calls to step down.