Page last updated at 10:35 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 11:35 UK

Fresh clashes shake Lebanese city


Armed men on the streets of Bab Tibbaneh and Jabal Mohsen

At least two people have been killed in renewed sectarian clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

Explosions and gunfire could be heard as Sunni supporters of the pro-Western government fought Alawite gunmen backing the Hezbollah-led opposition.

About 40 people were wounded, including two soldiers apparently caught in the crossfire.

Fighting has continued in Tripoli despite a deal reached in May aimed at ending long-running political strife.

As part of that agreement, the Western-backed prime minister, Fouad Siniora, is attempting to form a government of national unity with opposition parties.

On Saturday, he said he was confident the new administration would be formed soon.

Mixed city

The latest clashes began on Tuesday night when a number of hand grenades exploded in a street separating the two rival districts, the mainly Sunni Bab Tibbaneh and the Alawite Jabal Mohsen.

Reports say a woman also died from a heart attack after one of the grenades exploded near her. She was not counted in official figures for the number of dead.

Witnesses said snipers had taken up positions along the main road separating the two areas.

At least nine people were killed and 44 were wounded in two days of fierce fighting between the two areas in June. Troops and police were deployed in the area to quell the violence.

The port of Tripoli, located 80km (50 miles ) north of Beirut, is Lebanon's second largest city and predominantly Sunni Muslim, although it is also home to Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam, and other sects.

The country has been deeply divided on sectarian and political lines since the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri in 2005.

A majority of Lebanon's large Sunni Muslim community are in the pro-government camp, while most Shias support Hezbollah and the opposition.

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Armed men on the streets of Tripoli

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