At least six people were killed and seven injured after a gunman tried to kill an Islamist in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.
Clashes erupted Sunday in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ein el-Hilweh, near the southern port city of Sidon, killing at least six people and wounding seven. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said two children were among those injured.
Anonymous Palestinian officials spoke to The Associated Press and said the fighting broke out after an unknown gunman tried to assassinate Islamist militant Mahmoud Khalil, killing a companion of his instead.
Another Palestinian official added that later, Islamist militants assassinated a Palestinian military general from the Fatah group and three escorts.
Ein el-Hilweh is notorious for its lawlessness and violence is not uncommon.
The camp, home to around 55,000 people according to the UN, was established in 1948 to house Palestinians who were displaced by Israeli forces during the establishment of Israel.
On Sunday, factions used rocket-propelled grenade launchers and assault rifles to spray the camp. They also threw hand grenades as ambulances zoomed through the narrow streets to take the wounded to the hospital.
The fighting stopped for several hours in the morning, though state media said there was still sporadic sniper fire, fights erupted again after the killing of the Palestinian general and his escorts.
Some Sidon residents near the camp fled their homes as stray bullets hit buildings and shattered windows and storefronts. The Sidon General Public Hospital evacuated its staff and patients.
The Lebanese army said in a statement that a mortar shell hit a military barracks outside the camp and wounded one soldier, whose condition is stable.
UNRWA said two of its schools that serve some 2,000 students were damaged in the fighting. It said it suspended all its operations in Ein el-Hilweh.
Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, condemned the clashes. In a statement, he said, “We call on the Palestinian leadership to cooperate with the army to control the security situation and hand over those meddling with security to the Lebanese authorities."
Palestinian factions in the camp have cracked down on militant Islamist groups and fugitives seeking shelter in the camp's overcrowded neighbourhoods. In 2017, Palestinian factions engaged in almost a week of fierce clashes with a militant organization affiliated with the extremist Islamic State group.