BEIRUT (AP) — Clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian government killed three people Saturday in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, leaving dozens of children stuck in their classrooms under fire, authorities said.
Fighting began after gunmen from the city's Bab Tabbaneh neighborhood shot the legs of a man whose brother controls an Alawite militia. The guard of a Sunni mosque and a 16-year-old youth were killed in the clashes, while children in three schools were trapped in class by heavy gunfire, said police officials who requested anonymity in line with regulations. Hours later, a woman was killed by sniper fire, police said.
Hours later, Lebanese soldiers evacuated at least one institution, the Luqman School on the edge of Tripoli, Lebanon's state news agency reported.
Sectarian clashes related to the Syrian civil war often flare in rundown coastal city between two impoverished neighborhoods that back opposing sides. The Bab Tabbaneh district is largely Sunni Muslim, as are many of the Syrian rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad's rule. Residents of the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood are mostly of Assad's Alawite sect.
While Tripoli is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, the fighting rarely spreads beyond Bab Tabbaneh, one of the poorest parts of Lebanon.