Sniper fire kills one in Lebanon city split over Syria

The victim had been passing through the Sunni populated area when the bullet struck his head

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Sniper fire in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, scene of frequent Syria-related sectarian clashes, has killed one person and wounded eight others, a security official said Sunday.

"One person in his 60s from Bab al-Tebbaneh has died and eight others have been wounded after an exchange of sniper fire on Saturday night," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The man, a taxi driver, had been passing through the Sunni-populated neighbourhood in his vehicle when a bullet struck his head. He died of his wounds on Sunday.

The wounded come from both Bab al-Tebbaneh, whose residents support the revolt in neighbouring Syria, and from Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are from the same Alawite religious community as Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

Ever since Syria's war broke out nearly three years ago, the two neighbourhoods have witnessed numerous rounds of violence involving sniper and machinegun fire, as well as rocket attacks and bombings.

On Sunday, residents of the two areas fled their homes for safer areas of Tripoli, Lebanon's second city, for fear the violence would degenerate further and that they would get stuck in the crossfire.

According to the security official, "the Lebanese army is shooting back at the sources of fire" on both sides, in a bid to restore calm to the neighbourhoods.

But on Sunday, "tensions between the two areas were palpably raised," he added.

All shops were closed Sunday on the aptly named Syria Street, the road separating the two districts that acts as the makeshift frontline when clashes erupt.

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