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Page last updated at 22:53 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 23:53 UK

Fresh clashes shake Lebanese city

Boy collects spent cartridges after earlier round of Tripoli fighting
Several waves of clashes have hit neighbouring Tripoli districts

Sectarian fighting has broken out again between rival factions in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

At least six people were killed, including a 10-year-old boy, and 30 injured in the clashes between Alawite and Sunni Muslims, officials said.

Fighting in the city led to five deaths and dozens of injuries earlier in July.

Rival politicians formed a government of national unity two weeks ago, but there has since been further wrangling over weapons held by Hezbollah.

The Shia Islamist movement used its arsenal to briefly seize control of the capital, Beirut, and rout supporters of the pro-Western parliamentary majority in May.

Ceasefire breached

Eyewitnesses in Tripoli said rivals sides fired rocket-propelled grenades after hours of sporadic sniper fire.

One rocket reportedly hit a block of flats and set a nearby vegetable market ablaze.

Shops were closed and people could be seen fleeing their homes near the battlefront, which separates Bab Tibbaneh district, which is Sunni, from the Alawite-dominated Jabal Mohsen area.

Lebanese army soldiers have taken control of the streets after previous violent outbreaks and have pledged a tough response to breaches of a ceasefire.

On Thursday, the cabinet decided to postpone talks on the issue of arms held by Hezbollah.

The group, which is part of the new government, but also has a large and well-organised military wing, is backed by Syria and Iran.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the US and France are among the main backers of the Future movement of pro-western Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

The Future movement wants government policy to include disarming Hezbollah, which says its weapons are needed for resistance against its southern foe, Israel.


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