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Toll in Lebanon Palestinian camp clashes rises to 8: medics

AFP , Monday 10 Apr 2017
Ain al Hilweh
Smoke rises during clashes in Ain al-Hilweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, on April 9, 2017. (AFP)
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Sporadic clashes that have killed eight people continued in the Palestinian Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon on Monday, as an extremist group battled a local security force.

An AFP correspondent on the outskirts of the camp in the city of Sidon reported the sound of intermittent fighting and bursts of gunfire, after a night of heavy clashes.

Medical sources said the toll in the fighting, which began on Friday, had risen to eight, among them five civilians, with at least 40 people wounded.

Among the injured were three people in critical condition, as well as a four-year-old boy.

The fighting has prompted security measures outside the camp, which the Lebanese army does not enter by long-standing convention.

The adjacent highway is closed, and patients at the neighbouring government hospital have been moved elsewhere.

On Monday, the education ministry ordered the closure of all public and private schools in Sidon and the surrounding area as a precaution.

Fighting erupted late Friday after Palestinian factions deployed throughout the camp as part of a joint security force aimed at combatting the influence of a local Islamic extremist group.

Inside the camp, Palestinian charitable groups distributed bread and water to residents most affected by the fighting after the clashes damaged water tanks supplying several neighbourhoods.

Ain al-Hilweh is home to multiple armed factions, and has been plagued by intermittent clashes among them as well as against smaller extremist groups.

Lebanon's army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, where security is managed by joint committees of Palestinian factions.

Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in Syria.

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