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May 19, 2003

Clashes in Lebanon camp

At least five people have been killed in fighting between rival groups in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.
Witnesses said gunmen of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement and members of an Islamic group fired automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at each other, sending residents fleeing for cover.

At least 21 people have been wounded, most of them civilians.

Tension between the two sides has been building for months, after a series of bomb and gun attacks.

The camp is off-limits to the Lebanese authorities.

About 75,000 Palestinian refugees and their families live there.

Battle for control

The fighting broke out when about 200 fundamentalist fighters - using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns - opened fire on the offices of Fatah in the camp.

It is not clear whether there were civilians among those killed.

A Lebanese photographer working for the AFP news agency was among the wounded.
The clashes follow the funerals of two people killed in an ambush in the camp on Saturday, apparently targeting Abdullah Shreidi - leader of the Islamic group, Osbat al-Nour.

He was critically wounded in the ambush.

Osbat al-Nour is said to be an offshoot of a larger Osbat al-Ansar, which is on the United States' list of terrorist organisations because of its alleged links to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda.

Many of its members are said to be wanted by the Lebanese authorities.

note:.... The camp is in Lebanon and yet it is off limits to the Lebanese government?