Two dead as clashes flare again in Lebanon’s Tripoli

Updated 27 August 2012
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Two dead as clashes flare again in Lebanon’s Tripoli

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Two people were killed yesterday in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, a security source said, where sporadic fighting between pro- and anti-Syrian regime gunmen over six days has mirrored sectarian faultlines in the raging conflict in neighboring Syria.
Sunnis in Syria have been the driving force of a 17-month uprising against President Bashar Assad, whose minority Alawite sect has dominated the country’s political and military elite for more than four decades.
At least 18 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in nearly a week of clashes in Tripoli.
Lebanon’s army deployed tanks and troops to clamp down on violence on Thursday, but fighting flared up again, residents said. They said the army raided parts of the city on Sunday and arrested several gunmen.
The fighting is the latest in a series of clashes that have hit the port city since the revolt in Syria began in 2011.
Violence has been concentrated in an area where Alawite districts abut Sunni neighborhoods, and have generally not spread across the city or through the rest of the country.
But tensions remain high in Lebanon, particularly its northern region that is home to both sects.
Syria has had far-reaching influence in Lebanon for decades. Assad withdrew Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005 after a 29-year presence in the country.
Tensions between Alawites and Sunnis in Tripoli date from the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war when Lebanese Alawites fought with troops sent in by Bashar’s late father, Hafez, against Sunnis’ opposed to Syria’s military presence in Lebanon.


Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

Updated 15 min 10 sec ago
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Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

  • Cyclone Mekunu left a path of distruction, flooding towns and causing extensive damage
  • One of the dead is a 12-year-old girl who was hit in the head with a door that blew open

SALALAH, Oman: The death toll from a cyclone that battered southern Oman and the Yemeni island of Socotra has reached 11, while eight sailors are still missing, authorities said.
Cyclone Mekunu hit Oman’s Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces on Friday after intensifying from a category one to a category two cyclone, with winds of up to 170 kilometers (over 100 miles) per hour after it made landfall on Socotra on Thursday.
Oman’s civil defense service on Saturday reported two deaths, adding to an earlier toll of a man and a 12-year-old girl.
“The third is an Asian man who was missing but his body was found late Saturday in Dhofar” province, spokesman Lt. Col. Saeed Al-Badaei said at a press conference late Saturday.
“The fourth is a young Omani man who was swept away in his car by flooding,” he added.
Socotra’s governor Ramzy Mahrous said on Sunday that the death toll on the island remained seven — five Yemenis and two Indian sailors. A further eight Indian sailors remain missing.
The southeastern part of the island remains cut off, but authorities are working to access the area and assess damage, Mahrous told AFP.
Around 1,000 families on Socotra, with a population of around 60,000, were evacuated after their homes were damaged.
The main road linking the airport to Hadibo, the island’s main city, has been reopened, Mahrous said.
Oman’s meteorology directorate announced late Saturday that “the direct effects of the tropical system are over.”
Cyclone Mekunu has now been downgraded to the category of “deep depression.”
Late Saturday it struck Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter, one of the world’s most arid deserts, with ongoing heavy rains and strong winds.
The Saudi meteorological authority said on Twitter Sunday that winds blew at 60 kilometers (over 35 miles) per hour, kicking up blinding dust storms.
Rains are expected to continue for two more days, drenching the area with more than 100 millimeters (four inches) of rain, almost six times its annual average, Amman-based weather experts WASM said on Twitter.