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2 Killed in Islamist Attack on Palestinians in Lebanon - 2002-08-13

Two people were killed and at least six others were wounded on Tuesday when Lebanese Islamist gunmen attacked strongholds of a Palestinian faction in Lebanon's largest refugee camp.

The morning firefight was by far the bloodiest incident in a series of recent clashes between Sunni fundamentalists and forces loyal to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The bitter turf war between factions at Ain al Helweh, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, had caused damage but few victims until now. News agencies reported that the intensity of the fighting damaged several houses and cars and burst water pipes feeding the camp, which is home to some 75,000 Palestinians.

Islamic groups inside the camp have been at odds with the Lebanese government and a number of their leaders are wanted by the Lebanese Army.

The Lebanese government has periodically attempted to reassert control over Palestinian refugee camps but without much success.

Recent clashes appear to be the result of an agreement between Yasser Arafat's Fatah group and the Lebanese Army to hand over a fundamentalist wanted for killing three Lebanese policemen.

A handful of Palestinian fundamentalists, wanted for a bloody uprising against the Lebanese Army two years ago are reported to be holed up in Ain al Helweh.

Fatah is one of several armed Palestinian groups exercising control over the camp which is located near the southern port city of Sidon.

Some 350,000 Palestinian refugees live in 13 refugee camps inside Lebanon.