A shootout between Sunni and Shiite factions resulted in three deaths and at least seven injured Sunday in southern Lebanon, according to security officials. Clashes between followers of Sunni Lebanese Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir and members of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hizbullah erupted in the port city of Sidon in southern Lebanon, officials said. The bodyguard of Ahmad al-Assir was killed Sunday in the shooting, according to these sources.
The Lebanese army has squared the area, according to Lebanon's news agency.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati wrote on his Twitter account "the authorities will take the necessary measures to contain the situation in Sidon and arrest those responsible for the incident (...)." He added: "The police will not tolerate such incidents and will not allow a deterioration of the situation".
Mikati also called for calm and asked "all Lebanese to exercise restraint and avoid any kind of security incidents due to the sensitive situation in the country."
The incident allegedly erupted following the refusal of Hizbullah supporters in Sidon to comply with an ultimatum issued by Sheikh Assir, asking them to remove all the posters promoting the Shiite movement, according to an AFP report.The supporters of the Sunni Sheikh then tore a portrait of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, sparking clashes with his supporters.
Early November, Sheikh Assir called for "an intifada of all classes against the Iranian weapons in Lebanon, "in reference to Hizbullah's weapons. He also held a sit-in , several weeks ago in Sidon to protest against the arms of Lebanese Shiite group. The sit-in ended in August.
Lebanon has been facing a resurgence of violence between Muslim factions because of the civil war in neighboring Syria. Last month, the head of Lebanese intelligence services Wissam al-Hassan was killed in a Beirut car bomb attack. At his funeral, protesters have accused Syria of masterminding the attack.