BEIRUT (AP) â€” Clashes broke out in a Palestinian refugee camp near the southern Lebanese port of Sidon Monday, killing seven people, including the commander of an armed group, and wounding at least 10 others, Lebanese and Palestinian security officials said.
It was not clear what triggered the fighting in Mieh Mieh between supporters of a former commander of the mainstream Palestinian group Fatah and members of a rival armed group, Ansarullah.
The officials said heavy machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades were used in the fighting. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Fighting is common between rival groups across Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps, which house about 450,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants who were displaced by war since the 1948 creation of the state of Israel.
The nearby Ein el-Hilweh camp, Lebanon’s largest, is the scene of frequent bombings, assassinations and shootings among rival factions vying for control of the camp.
The army blocked all roads leading to the Mieh Mieh camp later Monday in an effort to contain the fighting, which raged for almost two hours. Ambulances raced outside the camp, ferrying the wounded.
Among those killed were Ahmad Rashid, commander of the “Return Brigades” affiliated with Fatah, and his bodyguard.
Separately, the chief of the Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a roadside bombing that targeted an Israeli patrol in March along the Lebanon-Israel border.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the bomb was in response to a February air strike on a Hezbollah base that the group accused Israel of undertaking.
Nasrallah’s remarks were from an interview, which was published in full Monday in the Lebanese daily As-Safir.
Nasrallah said the March bombing sent a message that Hezbollah was still capable of fighting Israel even as its fighters are battling alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces to quell a three-year uprising.
No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the March 14 roadside bombing. Such attacks have been rare since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war and both sides have avoided confrontation.