5 Hurt as Gunmen Clash in Rival Tripoli Neighborhoodsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Shooting broke out on Friday in the northern city of Tripoli as pro- and anti-Syria gunmen deployed heavily in the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, Agence France Presse reported.
"There is a heavy armed presence and shooting in the Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen," a security official said, requesting anonymity.
"One person driving by was injured in the gunfire."
He said the army had deployed in both neighborhoods earlier in the day, but later retreated to a street dividing the two sides.
"Two soldiers were wounded in the clashes," he said.
For its part, state-run National News Agency said three grenades exploded in an area located between the two rival districts.
“Sporadic volleys of machinegun fire are being heard every now and then,” NNA added.
It said three civilians were injured in the fighting, identifying them as Jihad Mohammed al-Sabaa, 24, Mohammed Ali Asaad, 46, and Khaled Saidawi, 25.
Meanwhile, MTV said a number of Bab al-Tabbaneh residents fled the area of the clashes.
“The army is firing back at the sources of the gunfire at the moment,” Radio Voice of Lebanon reported.
Later on Friday, President Michel Suleiman called on the military and security forces deployed in Tripoli to “firmly suppress those disrupting security and civil peace, especially in the North and specifically in Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.”
The Sunni-majority coastal city has in the past few years been the scene of intense clashes between Sunni supporters of the anti-Syrian opposition and Alawite Muslims loyal to a Hizbullah-led alliance backed by Iran and Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting an unprecedented revolt against his regime, hails from the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.