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Lebanon: Six killed in clashes between Palestinians at refugee camp

A Fatah commander among those killed following the failed assassination attempt of a senior member of a rival group
The entrance to Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, in Sidon, Lebanon, 30 July (Reuters)

At least six people were killed and others wounded in clashes between Palestinians in a refugee camp in Lebanon on Sunday.

Abu Sheref el-Armoushi, a senior commander with the Fatah movement, was killed along with four of his guards after being ambushed in the crowded Ain el-Hilweh camp near the southern coastal city of Sidon.

Sporadic clashes between rival groups erupted after his killing and continued into Monday morning. 

According to the official National News Agency (NNA), around 30 people were wounded.

Tensions in the camp spiked on Saturday following the failed assassination attempt of a senior member of a local rival of the Fatah group, which controls security in Ain el-Hilweh. 

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It was not immediately clear who was involved in the clashes on Sunday or who was behind Armoushi's killing. 

The Lebanese army said a mortar shell landed inside a military headquarters with one soldier wounded amid the clashes.

Fighting subsided on Sunday night but did not completely stop even after a ceasefire was reached at a meeting between rival factions that included representatives of the Hezbollah group and its allies in the Amal movement who hold sway in southern Lebanon.

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Shops had earlier closed their doors and some people fled the camp, the largest refugee camp for Palestinians in Lebanon.

Unwra, the UN agency responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees and which provides basic services to nearly 50,000 people living in Ain el-Hilweh, said it was suspending all operations in the camp.

Dorothee Klaus, direct of Unrwa in Lebanon, said in a message on the X messaging platform, formerly known as Twitter, that the agency called "on all militant parties to ensure civilians' safety and respect inviolability of UN premises", adding that the clashes damaged two schools run by the UN agency.

The Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned his country was again paying a price as "an arena to settle foreign scores". 

The camp has regularly seen factional disputes spiral into deadly violence.

Some 400,000 refugees live in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps, which date back to Israel's seizure of Palestinian land in 1948.

The camps mainly lie outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services.

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