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Two killed in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp

The fighting in Ain al-Hilweh involved religious militants and members of Fatah
More than 450,000 Palestinians are registered in Lebanon (AFP)

Two people were killed and 15 wounded in clashes on Saturday at Lebanon's largest refugee camp near the southern port of Sidon, Palestinian officials and medics said.

The fighting in Ain al-Hilweh, involved militants from Jund al-Sham, a group linked to al-Qaeda, and members of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.

"Two members of Fatah were killed and six other members were wounded in the fighting," a Fatah official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Local medical sources said 15 people - both civilians and fighters - had been wounded, some critically.

The camp currently hosts 120,000 Palestinian refugees.

A Palestinian security official said the fighting erupted when the militants shot at Abu Ashraf Armoushi, a Fatah military official, as he attended a funeral.

An AFP correspondent said the fighting turned into street battles, with Ain al-Hilweh's narrow alleyways ringing to the sound of gunfire and rockets.

The clashes took place mostly near the camp's northern entrance, and dozens of fearful families hid in nearby mosques in Sidon.

By early evening, the warring sides had agreed to a ceasefire, another Palestinian official told AFP.

The impoverished Ain al-Hilweh has gained notoriety as a refuge for militants and for the settling of scores between factions.

By long-standing convention, the army does not enter the Palestinian refugee camps, leaving the factions themselves to handle security.

On Saturday, Lebanese soldiers called in reinforcements and tightened security around the camp's four main entrances, allowing in only ambulances.

Tensions have risen in recent months in Ain al-Hilweh. In the past month, two people were killed in clashes between the two sides.

More than 450,000 Palestinians are registered in Lebanon with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.

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