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  4. 6 killed as clashes erupt in largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, 7 injured

6 killed as clashes erupt in largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, 7 injured

Tensions flared up in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp after Fatah military general Ashraf al-Armouchi and four of his escorts were killed by Islamist militants.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Beirut Published on: July 31, 2023 8:28 IST
Smoke rises from the Ain al-Hilweh camp in Lebanon
Image Source : AP Smoke rises from the Ain al-Hilweh camp in Lebanon

At least six people have been killed after clashes erupted between the Fatah group and Islamist militants in the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon near the southern city of Sidon on Sunday, according to officials. Two children were among the seven people injured during the fighting.

Citing Palestinian officials, AP reported that the fighting broke out after an unidentified gunmen tried to assassinate Islamist militant Mahmoud Khalil, but shot and killed his companion instead. Later, Islamist militants killed a Fatah military general Ashraf al-Armouchi and four of his escorts, which flared up tensions within the camp.

The clashes in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp were marked with the use of assault rifles, grenade launchers and hand grenades. Many people living in Sidon near the camp fled after stray bullets hit buildings and shattered windows. 

The Lebanese Army said that a soldier was wounded after a mortar shell hit a military barracks outside the camp. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said that two of its schools serving 2,000 students were damaged and suspended its operaions in the camp.

"We call on the Palestinian leadership to cooperate with the army to control the security situation and hand over those meddling with security to the Lebanese authorities," said Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, in a statement.

About the Ain al-Hilweh camp in Lebanon

The Ain al-Hilweh is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, housing nearly 55,000 refugees. It was established in 1948 near Sudan during the establishment of the Israeli state and falls outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security forces.

Over the years, the camp has gained a notorious reputation for lawlessness and violence, and factional disputes are common. 

More than 479,000 registered Palestinian refugees live in 12 refugee camps in Lebanon, according to the UNRWA. All the camps struggle with overcrowding and dire living situations, unemployment, poverty and lack of access to justice.

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