Child dies in sectarian firefight near Beirut

Hours of fighting in a town south of Beirut left at least two dead and several injured.

al-monitor Armed men are pictured in this still from mobile footage taken following armed clashes south of Beirut on Aug. 28, 2020. Photo by YOUTUBE/Sky News.

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lebanon, sectarian violence, beirut

Aug 28, 2020

A child is among two dead after sectarian clashes erupted south of Beirut Thursday, the Lebanese news media reported. 

The firefight in the town of Khaldeh reportedly broke out between local Sunni tribes and supporters of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah in an area home to both Sunnis and Shiites. Officials told Reuters that supporters of the Iran-backed group hung religious banners commemorating Ashura, the day marking the martyrdom of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. 

In a statement, the Lebanese army also said the raising of the poster sparked the fighting and confirmed that the two killed in the hours-long gunfight were a 13-year-old Lebanese Sunni boy and a Syrian citizen. 

“The rest of those involved are being pursued," the army said in a statement, adding that four have already been arrested, including two Syrians. 

United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, wrote that he was “gravely concerned” by the recent events. 

“The last thing the tormented Lebanon needs is sectarian strife — a sure way to disaster," he wrote on Twitter. 

Lebanese broadcaster MTV notes the Khaldeh clashes were the second deadly shootout in a week. On Saturday, three men were fatally shot in the village of Kaftoun in northern Lebanon.  

Lebanon is still reeling from this month’s devastating explosion at the Beirut port and the political and economic crisis that deepened in its wake. 

The government resigned days after the blast, which killed nearly 200 people, wounded thousands more and gutted the city’s infrastructure. Thousands of protesters took to the streets blaming Lebanon’s now-caretaker government for corruption and negligence that led to the explosion. 

On Monday, members of parliament will start talks to choose a new prime minister. The next day, French President Emmanuel Macron will arrive in Lebanon to discuss implementing the political reforms needed to unlock further international assistance. 

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