Three killed in gunfight in Lebanon's Baalbek

Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Three people were killed in clashes in the Lebanese town of Baalbek on Saturday after gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint manned by militant group Hezbollah, security sources said.

One Hezbollah member was killed and two others were wounded when gunmen opened fire from a car at the checkpoint, the sources said. Hezbollah gunmen returned fire, killing two men and wounding three, they said.

Baalbek lies in the eastern Bekaa Valley close to the border with Syria, across which Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah guerrillas and Sunni Muslim fighters have travelled to join opposing forces in the Syrian civil war.

Their involvement in the two-and-a-half-year conflict has fuelled sectarian tensions across Lebanon which has erupted at times into street fighting, car bombings and rocket fire. Several rockets have been fired at Shi'ite areas in the Bekaa Valley by suspected Syrian rebels or their supporters.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to support Syria's President Bashar al-Assad who, like Hezbollah, is a close ally of Shi'ite Iran and whose minority Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

Lebanese Sunnis have supported the rebels trying to topple Assad in a civil war which has killed more than 100,000 people.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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