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Weekend in Tripoli marred by clashes, sniper fire
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TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army and security forces warned Tripoli residents to avoid the international Tripoli-Akkar highway Sunday following heavy gunfire in the area. The Armys warning concluded a difficult weekend for the northern city marked by sniper fire, clashes and angry protests.

In an effort to reclaim their city, some civil society activists and local organizations called for a shopping festival Sunday to support local businesses that have been affected by the ongoing violence.

But despite heavy deployment by the Army and security forces, which managed to restore peace to most of the city, rumors of renewed fighting Sunday prompted most residents to stay home.

Meanwhile, the rival neighborhoods of Al-Baqqar and Jabal Mohsen continued to witness intermittent clashes and sniper fire.

Abdullah Shmeitia and Khaled Traboulsi, a Palestinian, were killed Saturday by snipers in the area. A number of others were also wounded. Lebanese Army soldier Walid Alameddine died Sunday, succumbing to wounds sustained one day earlier, an Army statement said.

Al-Baqqar, like the nearby Bab al-Tabbaneh, is predominantly Sunni and supportive of the armed Syrian opposition. The Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen backs Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Tensions between opponents and supporters of the Syrian regime have sparked several rounds of clashes in Tripoli since the Syrian crisis erupted in March 2011. The fighting has claimed dozens of lives, wounded hundreds, caused extensive material damage and dealt a grave blow to the local economy.

Saturday saw a general deterioration in the citys security, with several seemingly unrelated attacks occurring throughout the city.

In Qibbeh, masked gunmen opened fired on soldiers guarding a military barracks near the public hospital.

The soldiers returned fire, forcing the assailants to flee. No casualties were reported.

The Army was also forced to remove an Israeli armored personnel carrier that had served as a war monument near Abu Ali Roundabout after it was vandalized. Hezbollah presented the carrier as a gift to the city in 2000 following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from south Lebanon.

Masked gunmen also robbed the Spinneys in Al-Bahsas.

source By Antoine Amrieh