Twenty wounded in Lebanon's Tripoli: Medical sources

Reuters , Monday 14 May 2012

At least 20 people were injured in renewed fighting in Lebanese city of Tripoli between Alawite supporters of Syrian president Al-Assad and Sunni Muslim opponent to his regime

A Sunni gunman takes his position behind a tire barrier as he fires his weapon during a clashes at Syria Street which divided the areas between Sunnis and Alawites, in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon (Photo : AP)

Twenty people were wounded in renewed clashes overnight between Alawite supporters of President Bashar al-Assad and Sunni Muslim fighters in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, medical sources said on Monday.

The fighting, which lasted from midnight to 6 a.m. (2100 to 0300 GMT), followed weekend violence in which three people were killed in an Alawite enclave and surrounding Sunni Muslim neighbourhoods.

Tension between the two communities in Tripoli has been fuelled by the unrest in neighbouring Syria, where Assad is seeking to crush a 14-month uprising which began with largely peaceful protests but has become increasingly militarised.

Assad himself is from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, while the revolt has been led by Syria's majority Sunnis.

Among the deaths at the weekend was a soldier hit by sniper fire. Sporadic fighting also took place between groups of armed Sunnis and the army near a main Sunni district, and many of Tripoli's main intersections were blocked by burning tyres.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a Sunni Muslim from Tripoli, met religious leaders in the city on Sunday in an attempt to defuse the situation, and local leaders were due to meet later on Monday for more talks to calm the tension.

A small Alawite minority is concentrated in Tripoli, a conservative Sunni city where many residents have been enraged by the Syrian government's crackdown on the mainly Sunni revolt.

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