Palestinian dies in clashes with Lebanon army: officials

Added by on June 18, 2012

A Palestinian was killed and several people, including three soldiers, were wounded on Monday in clashes at a refugee camp in northern Lebanon, officials said.

The violence broke out at the Nahr al-Bared camp near the costal city of Tripoli following the funeral of a refugee who had been killed by the military on Friday, according to a security official.

“One Palestinian refugee was killed and seven others were wounded” by gunfire, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Lebanese army said in a statement that three soldiers were injured in the clashes.

The army used “tear gas and rubber bullets, and then fired live rounds at people who insisted on attacking (a military post), leading to several of the attackers being injured,” said the statement.

It added that youths threw Molotov cocktails at the soldiers and torched an army vehicle as well as part of the military post. It blamed “infiltrators” for the unrest.

A camp resident said soldiers had opened fire on the youths without provocation.

“The situation in the camp has been tense for days,” added another camp resident. “Both the army and the youths were provoking each other. We fear something bigger is being prepared, because the army is deploying in large numbers around the camp now.”

On Friday, the army shot dead a Palestinian and wounded three others when a dispute over identity papers at Nahr al-Bared turned violent, a Palestinian source said.

News about Monday’s clashes quickly spread to other Palestinian camps across the country, including Ain al-Helweh, where residents burned tyres and pelted with stones an army checkpoint at the northern entrance to the camp.

The army fired in the air to disperse the crowd.

Nahr al-Bared was almost totally destroyed in 2007 during a months-long conflict between the Lebanese military and a small Al-Qaeda-inspired group called Fatah al-Islam.

The fighting killed some 400 people, including 168 soldiers.

The military controls access to the camp and has checkpoints inside Nahr al-Bared — the only one of 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon under the direct control of the Lebanese security forces.

By long-standing convention, the Lebanese army does not enter the camps, leaving security inside to the Palestinians themselves.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) estimates that some 425,000 Palestinian refugees are living in Lebanon, a country with a population of four million. Other estimates indicate the number to be closer to 250,000.