Shiite-Sunni violence plagues Lebanon

Nov. 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Egypt called on its citizens to be on alert after an Egyptian national was killed during violence in Lebanon pitting Shiite Hezbollah against Sunni rivals.

At least three people, including one Egyptian, were killed in the southern Lebanese coastal city of Sidon following clashes between Hezbollah and Sunni backers of imam Ahman al-Assir.

Ali al-Esheiry, Egypt's deputy foreign minister for consular affairs, warned Egyptian nationals in Lebanon to be on alert following the clashes, the Egyptian Independent newspaper reports. The newspaper adds the Egyptian national was killed accidentally last weekend.

Assir called on supporters Monday to take up arms against Hezbollah's military wing a day after two of his bodyguards were killed during the melee in Sidon.

"They killed two of my men. I call on you to take up weapons," the cleric was quoted by The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon as saying. "But don't rush or get dragged (into fighting)."

Assir's supporters reportedly rallied in the streets of Sidon chanting slogans against Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

President Michel Suleiman pleaded for calm Monday. His country has been on edge since a top intelligence official was killed in October during attacks that opposition leaders blame on Syria.

"We must be aware not to slip into strife," the president said.

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