Gunmen kill Lebanon Alawite in apparent sectarian attack

AFP , Wednesday 26 Mar 2014

Gunmen killed an Alawite in Lebanon's tense second city Tripoli on Wednesday, a security source said, in an apparent new sectarian attack linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

A woman bystander was also killed, and her son and a street vendor injured, when the slain man's vehicle crashed, the source added.

The northern port city has been rocked by repeated bouts of violence pitting its Sunni Muslim majority, who largely support the rebels in Syria, against the Alawite minority, who back their coreligionist President Bashar al-Assad.

"An Alawite employee of Tripoli city council was shot dead by two men on a motorbike who chased his car as he drove home after work," the security source told AFP.

"The car went out of control after the shooting, and crashed into a vegetable cart. A woman was standing there with her child. Both were wounded, and she died of her injuries soon afterwards," he added.

"The son's hand was broken, as was the cart vendor's leg."

A similar fatal attack on a Sunni earlier this month by gunmen on a motorbike sparked 13 days of armed clashes between neighbouring Sunni and Alawite districts of Tripoli that killed 27 people.

Tensions between mainly Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh and mainly Alawite Jabal Mohsen go back decades but have been exacerbated by the three-year-old conflict in Syria.

In December, Human Rights Watch said a government security plan for Tripoli "should specifically include measures to protect Alawite residents and their property."

Alawites make up 11 percent of the city's population. Sunnis account for 80 percent.

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