Monday 28 July 2008

Fighting in north

The AFP news agency reports on continuing calshes in north Lebanon:

Hundreds of people were still homeless on Sunday after the latest bout of deadly sectarian fighting in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.

Army reinforcements were sent to Tripoli on Saturday after militants from the rival Sunni Muslim and Alawite (Shiite) communities agreed to halt clashes that erupted early Friday, killing nine people and wounding dozens more.

Fighters battled with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons causing massive damage to property and sending hundreds of people fleeing for cover from the neighbouring districts of Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.

A source from the Future Movement of Sunni leader Saad Hariri said almost 2,200 families fled their homes in mainly Sunni district of Bab al-Tebbaneh and the mostly Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen.

Tripoli municipality chief Mohammed Rashid Jamali told AFP that 1,500 people were holed up in eight schools across the city waiting to return home.

Tensions between the two communities date back to Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. Alawites are an offshoot of Shiite Islam.