Sectarian fighting in Tripoli kills 9, wounds 50

Religious, political tensions high since Hizbullah overran parts of Beirut in May.

lebanon clashes 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
lebanon clashes 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Tanks and armored vehicles from the Lebanese army were once again deployed in the northern coastal city Tripoli as fighting between rival sectarian groups left at least nine dead and 50 wounded on Friday, various news agencies reported. The clashes are between residents of the impoverished neighborhoods of Bab Al-Tibbana, which is a stronghold of the anti-Syrian parliamentary bloc, and inhabitants of Jabl Mohsin, who support the opposition led by Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hizbullah. The battles, which included both rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, were the latest round of violence to hit the city. The violence started on Thursday evening after cabinet ministers decided to postpone talks on the weapons held by Hizbullah. Twenty-three people have been killed so far. The question of Hizbullah's weaponry is one of the most highly charged political issues in Lebanese politics. Hizbullah claims it only keeps its weapons to protect the country from outside aggression and that it will never use its arsenal against fellow Lebanese. However, in May this year clashes involving Hizbullah fighters erupted in several places around Lebanon as the government decided to dismantle a private phone network set up by Hizbullah. A power-sharing deal was brokered by the Gulf kingdom Qatar between the government and the opposition, which broke the political deadlock which had left the county without a president for the last 11 months since the departure of Syrian-backed Emile Lahoud in October last year.