Lebanon’s worst street violence in more than a decade has left at least six people dead and at least 30 wounded, officials said Wednesday, according to Reuters, and a senior Lebanese security official accused the neighboring Palestinian camp of igniting the violence in a premeditated attack.
The clashes broke out on Tuesday after a funeral for three young Palestinian protesters killed in clashes with Lebanese soldiers earlier this week. At the funeral, mourners brought coffins of three more dead protesters — members of the same family. More than a dozen protesters and security forces were wounded in the clashes.
The senior Lebanese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media, told Reuters the killings were in response to a statement posted on the Facebook page of Fatah Martyrs Brigades, a military wing of Palestinian group Fatah, saying it shot the funeral procession.
A mosque preacher and his son were among the dead after clashes with security forces around the funeral in the mainly-Christian port city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s third largest.
Lt. Col. Nasser Qassem, a spokesman for the Internal Security Forces, said clashes erupted in the city after some 30,000 mourners came out to pay tribute to the three young protesters, adding that security forces fired warning shots but the crowds turned violent, Al Arabiya reported.
“The clashes resumed after someone fired a shot at the security forces, the shooting ignited clashes,” Qassem said. He added the military was looking for four snipers.
The death toll is likely to rise as four bodies are still in hospitals, the Islamic News Agency reported, citing a Facebook page affiliated with the Internal Security Forces.
Palestinian activists blamed the Interior Ministry for letting protesters enter the city without a permit, underlining the tensions between Palestinians and Lebanese authorities. The military, backed by artillery and tanks, advanced into the city from the northeast, where clashes started from Wednesday.
Lebanon is home to an estimated 600,000 Palestinian refugees, among the world’s largest refugee populations, and they enjoy nearly total autonomy in refugee camps across the country.