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Ain al-Hilweh on alert as clashes break out
An ambulance speeds during clashes at the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh near Sidon, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
An ambulance speeds during clashes at the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh near Sidon, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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SIDON, Lebanon: A shooting targeting a former member of Fatah al-Islam in Ain al-Hilweh Monday led to sporadic clashes between the Islamist organization and Fatah in the Palestinian refugee camp.

The initial shooting that led to the clashes reportedly followed a personal dispute in the Al-Tayri neighborhood between the suspected gunman, Abd al-Naser S., and a former member of Fatah al-Islam, Bilal Badr, and his brother Ahmad, according the security sources who spoke to The Daily Star.

One person was killed and at least five others wounded in clashes that broke out after Fatah al-Islam militants retaliated to the Badr shooting by engaging in a gunfight with Fatah. Khaled Ahmad al-Masri, a member of Fatah, was killed in the shootout and his body was transferred to Labib Abu Dahr Hospital. Iman al-Miari, Omar Karroum and Saleh Kaaboush were also wounded while passing by when the clash took place. Fatah members received strict orders to avoid returning fire at Fatah al-Islam militants, the sources added.

Separately, high level political contacts were made between leaders of Fatah and Islamist factions as well as local politicians to contain the situation in Ain al-Hilweh, but clashes in the camp continued to escalate throughout the day.

Sidon MP Bahia Hariri initiated multiple contacts and urged Palestinian officials to contain the incident, fearing that a possible retaliation by Fatah al-Islam militants on Fatah offices could lead to an escalation. Hariri contacted leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Usbat al-Ansar and the Islamic Jihad Movement in the camp in order to calm the heightened tensions.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 12, 2013, on page 3.
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