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Violence spills over from N. Lebanon to southern Beirut

BEIRUT, March 23 (KUNA) -- Residents of the Lebanese capital Beirut early on Sunday awoke to sound of recurring blasts echoing from fringes of Sabra and Shatila camp for Palestinian refugees in south of the city.
Gunmen traded gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades in locations around the refugee camp, adjacent to the Beirut sports stadium, according to the official National News Agency (NNA).
A number of people were wounded in the violence that pitted militiamen of Shaker Al-Berjawi, a little known political figure with close links to the Syrian leadership in Damascus, against Islamic militants.
The region where the clashes took place is a hotbed for diverse armed factions.
Meanwhile in the northern city Tripoli, the NNA said Army units continued executing security measures to maintain security and stability, staging patrols and silencing sources of sniper fire.
Army units also carried out raids on some suspected places in Jabal Mohsen district, seizing light military weapons and ammunition.
Tripoli has witnessed on-and-off fierce fighting among local militias since more than a week ago. Sporadic sniper fire has remained prevalent in some districts following several recent bouts of fierce fighting.
Army troops positioned at road intersection, behind sand-bagged roadblocks and fortified locations prevented civilians from approaching alleways and roads under intermitted sniper fire and staged patrols near the hot spots.
The high tension has prevailed, particularly, in the opposing districts of Jabal Mohsen and Baba Al-Tebanneh, where local warring militias had traded rocket-propelled grenades, gunfire and mortar shells.
These two neighborhoods have turned into a traditional frontline, where the foe gunmen fire from roof-tops, deserted buildings and sand-bagged positions. According to official reports, the ongoing violence that broke out more than a week ago has claimed 26 deaths and left 180 others wounded.
The violence involves militia groups that support and oppose the Syrian uprising.
Tripoli is an ancient city located on the coast some 80 km north of Beirut. Many Syrians fleeing violence at home have fled to it and to other northern regions. The continuing violence constitutes a major snag in face of the new government of Tammam Salam, son of the late premier, Saeb Salam. (end) ayb.oh.rk KUNA 230957 Mar 14NNNN