Lebanon News

Fears of tensions in Ain al-Hilweh following murder

A general view showing the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp (foreground) and the southern city of Sidon (background), Dec. 27, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Following the murder of a Fatah Movement member in Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, sources inside the camp Saturday told The Daily Star they feared an escalation of tensions between factions there.

Around 4 p.m. on Friday, Mohammad Nazih Khalil, known as Abu al-Kel, was shot in the head while on his way to visit a friend in the camp's Hettin neighborhood.

Khalil was allegedly shot by Palestinian I.A.Kh., who belongs to Fatah al-Islam. Khalil was taken to a hospital in the camp and then to another hospital, in Sidon, and he succumbed to his wounds shortly afterward.

Other sources told The Daily Star that Khalil had previously been warned of a possible assassination attempt and that he was requested to limit his movements in the camp and not to go to Hettin. They added that Khalil regularly visited a friend in that neighborhood but that members of Fatah al-Islam had indirectly alerted him that he was not wanted there. The sources did not specify whether this was a result of Khalil's membership in the Fatah Movement.

Fatah al-Islam was once very active in Lebanon, carrying out a spate of terrorist attacks that culminated in the battle of north Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in 2007.

Minutes after the shooting, a voice note said to have been sent by I.A.Kh. circulated, in which the speaker denied that he had killed Khalil. The speaker did not, however, deny being in the same street when the shooting happened, and bystanders said they saw I.A.Kh. at the scene.

Following the incident, Khalil’s friends and family blocked a main road in the camp and set tires on fire, calling for the shooter’s arrest.

Many people left their homes, fearing the situation might escalate between the factions.

On Saturday, Palestinian security forces at the camp were inspecting security cameras that possibly caught the incident on video, and they are updating the Lebanese authorities on their investigations.





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