Asir's Bodyguard Killed, Hizbullah Official Wounded in Sidon Gunfight

Three people were killed and at least four others were wounded on Sunday in an armed clash between supporters of Hizbullah and Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in the Taamir Ain al-Hilweh neighborhood in the southern city of Sidon, state-run National News Agency reported.

Among the dead was one of Asir's bodyguards whom NNA identified by his nickname Lobnan al-Ezz.

The clash also killed Lebanese national Ali Samhoun and Egyptian citizen Ali al-Sharaband, according to NNA.

Hizbullah's official in Sidon Sheikh Zeid al-Daher and his bodyguard who belongs to al-Dirani family were also wounded in the gunfight, NNA said.

"Two people were killed and seven injured in clashes between supporters of Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir and Hizbullah near a Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon. One of the injured was a representative for Hizbullah for the area," a security official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity.

Later on Sunday, al-Jadeed television reported that the Taamir Ain al-Hilweh neighborhood was witnessing a cautious calm amid a heavy deployment by army troops.

In the wake of the clash, Prime Minister Najib Miqati asked Interior Minister Marwan Charbel convene an emergency meeting for the South's security council.

Afterwards, Miqati said he had requested the army and security agencies take prompt measures to bring the situation under control and arrest those behind the violence.

"We call on everyone to remain calm and execute restraint at this critical and delicate juncture," said the premier.

On Friday, Asir gave a 48-hour deadline to remove all the pictures and banners in Sidon that “contain slogans supportive of Hizbullah and its allies who back the Syrian-Iranian scheme,” AFP quoted the Salafist cleric as saying.

“Hizbullah on Sunday removed the pictures and banners from the city, escorted by the Lebanese army, but Asir supporters entered the Taamir Ain al-Hilweh neighborhood near the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, tearing up a poster of Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and sparking a fight with sticks that soon erupted into gunfire,” AFP reported.

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