Tripoli attack points to Lebanon's Sunni rivalries

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 12, 2012 6:10 AM

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - Gunmen opened fire on the house of a Sunni leader in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Monday, the latest eruption of violence in a city where political and sectarian fault lines have been exposed by the civil war in Syria.

The Syria conflict has revived old animosities in northern city between an Alawite minority loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and members of the majority Sunni community who support the 19-month-old uprising.

However the attack of the house of Sheikh Bilal Shaaban - head of an Islamist party politically aligned with the Syrian government and the Shi'ite group Hezbollah - pointed to rivalries within Lebanon's Sunni community itself.

There were no casualties in the attack at about 4 a.m. (0200 GMT), said associates of Shaaban, head of the Islamic Tawheed Movement.

It came a day after three people were killed in the southern city of Sidon in fighting between followers of a Sunni preacher and supporters of Hezbollah, a guerrilla movement and political party allied to Assad, whose Alawite faith is derived from Shi'ite Islam.

The clash occurred in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh on the edge of Sidon, a mostly Sunni city, when followers of Sheikh Ahmed al-Aseer, who adhere to a puritan interpretation of Islam, began removing banners put up by Hezbollah ahead of Ashura, a Shi'ite religious occasion.

(Reporting by Nazih Siddiq; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Pravin Char)