Army kills Sunni cleric in Lebanon

AFP , Sunday 20 May 2012

Lebanese army shoots dead a Sunni cleric after his convoy fails to stop at a checkpoint in unstable north

Army troops shot dead a Sunni cleric on Sunday when his convoy failed to stop at a checkpoint in north Lebanon, the scene of deadly clashes linked to the uprising in Syria, a security official said. The official told AFP that a fellow passenger in the car of cleric Ahmad Abdel Wahed, a figure known for his support of the anti-regime uprising in neighbouring Syria, was also killed.

Abdel Wahed's convoy failed to stop at a checkpoint in Koueikhat town, in the Akkar region.

The incident took place following a week of intermittent clashes in the northern port city of Tripoli between Sunnis hostile to the Syrian regime and Alawites who support President Bashar al-Assad.  The clashes in Lebanon's second largest city left 10 people dead.

Prime Minister Najib Miqati appealed for calm in the wake of the cleric's killing, as the army said it "deplored ... the regrettable incident that took place near a checkpoint" and that it had opened an investigation.
Local residents set fire to tyres to cut off several roads in northern Lebanon in protest, including a road leading to Syria.

"We will not allow ourselves to be targeted like this," warned Khaled al-Daher, a Sunni MP and member of the anti-Assad opposition in Lebanon, accusing the army of "targeting" the cleric. Some Lebanese Sunnis have accused the Lebanese army of toeing the Syrian regime's line.

Following the clashes in Tripoli, Miqati expressed concern that the Syrian crisis may spill over into Lebanon, where tensions have been exacerbated by the 15-month revolt. Lebanese politics is divided into pro- and anti-Damascus camps.

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