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What’s behind Palestinian violence in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp?

Lebanon’s largest refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh, is no stranger to violence between rival Palestinian factions.
Smoke rises during clashes in Ain al-Hilweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, Feb. 28, 2017.

BEIRUT — Violent clashes that erupted over the weekend between rival Palestinian factions at a refugee camp in southern Lebanon are continuing on Monday, the official National News Agency (NNA) reported, with at least six people reported killed so far.

What happened?

The violence began on Saturday after a Fatah member shot at Islamist militant Mahmoud Khalil in Ain al-Hilweh camp in the southern city of Sidon, to avenge the death of his brother in March by Islamists, according to the local Al-Akhbar newspaper. Khalil survived the attack with injuries, but one of his companions was killed and three others injured. Khalil is a member of al-Shabab al-Muslim faction, according to Palestinian sources from inside the camp, and is wanted by Lebanese authorities.

In response to Khalil’s assassination attempt, armed militants attacked and fired at Fatah’s headquarters inside the camp. The next day, Fatah commander Abu Ashraf al-Armoushi, who heads the Palestinian National Security Forces in the camp, and four of his aides were killed in an ambush.

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