Gunmen kill four Shi'ite Lebanese in Bekaa Valley

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 16, 2013 11:15 AM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Gunmen shot dead four Shi'ite Muslim men in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley in an ambush on Sunday, security sources said, in the latest sectarian violence close to the border with Syria.

The civil war just a few miles across the border in Syria has inflamed tensions in the Bekaa Valley, where Sunni Muslims who support the uprising against Bashar al-Assad live close to Shi'ites who back the Syrian president.

It was not clear who was responsible for Sunday's killings. A military source said residents of the nearby Sunni Muslim town of Arsal denied any involvement.

The recapture of the Syrian border town of Qusair by Assad's forces, spearheaded by Shi'ite Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, led to an influx of Syrian rebel fighters and civilians into Lebanon and more violence spilling over into the Bekaa region.

Rockets fired from areas believed to be controlled by Syrian rebels have targeted the Shi'ite town of Hermel, while a Syrian helicopter crossed into Lebanon last week and fired at buildings in the town of Arsal, wounding several people.

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Lebanon's National News Agency said protesters blocked two roads in the area after Sunday's killings - one leading to Arsal and another near the Shi'ite town of Baalbek.

(Reporting by Laila Bassam; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)