BEIRUT (AP) — Gun battles and rocket fire in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli killed at least nine people and wounded dozens more over the weekend, the latest clash between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Sectarian clashes linked to the war in neighboring Syria often flare between two impoverished rival neighborhoods in the rundown coastal city.
The Bab Tabbaneh district is largely Sunni Muslim, as are most of the Syrian rebels fighting against Assad's rule. Residents of Jabal Mohsen, a neighborhood perched on a hill, are mostly of Assad's Alawite sect.
Tripoli is mostly Sunni Muslim, with a large Christian minority, but the fighting rarely spreads beyond the two neighborhoods who have decades of bad blood between them.
Fighting began Saturday after Sunni gunmen shot a man whose brother controls an Alawite militia, sparking gun battles that trapped children in schools and forced traders to flee their shops.
The state agency said fighters used rocket-propelled grenades to target their rivals in the crowded neighborhoods. Lebanese media reported that schools in the affected neighborhoods asked parents to keep their children home Monday, fearing for their safety.