Palestinian forces of Fatah and Hamas have been fighting an armed faction connected to militant Bilal Badr in Ain el Hilweh camp since Thursday. Lebanon officials – who do not enter Palestinian camps in the country – say Badr refuses to surrender.

Smoke rises from buildings in Ain el-Helweh, Lebanons largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, during clashes between Palestinian security forces and fighters linked to Bilal Badr, a militant wanted in connection with terrorism on August 19, 2017.
Smoke rises from buildings in Ain el-Helweh, Lebanons largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, during clashes between Palestinian security forces and fighters linked to Bilal Badr, a militant wanted in connection with terrorism on August 19, 2017. (AFP)

At least one person was killed and several others were injured on Saturday – the third day of clashes between Palestinian security forces and militant group Badr in Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon, Lebanon, local sources said

Saturday's clashes broke out after fighters belonging to the mainstream Palestinian group Fatah, led by the West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, fired at a district where the leader of the armed group was believed to be taking cover.

Scores of families were forced to flee the area.

The fighting began on Thursday after armed men – allegedly sympathetic to Bilal Badr, a militant wanted in connection with “terrorism” – fired at the headquarters of a joint security force, comprising the main Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas, inside the camp. Two people were killed in that fighting.

The clashes eased on Friday before intensifying again on Saturday, forcing dozens of families to flee the camp and seek shelter in Sidon mosques.

The sound of fierce gunfire and rocket fire could be heard outside the camp as black smoke billowed over Ain al Hilweh.

The fighting shook the Al Tiri district a few metres (yards) away from a Lebanese army position.

By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, leaving the factions themselves to handle security.

Badr has refused to surrender, according to a Lebanese security official.

In June, As TRT World's  Zeina Awad reported on how small armed militant groups were making things worse at the camp.

Previous Badr clashes

In April, Badr supporters also battled intermittently for a week with Palestinian security forces, in violence that left nine dead and more than 50 wounded.

A joint Palestinian security force, comprising members of the key Fatah and Hamas factions, has for months strived to rein in Badr fighters.

Not a lot is known about Bilal Badr. He is thought to be in his late twenties or early thirties with affiliations to groups linked to al Qaeda. 

Ain al Hilweh – the most densely populated Palestinian camp in Lebanon – is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in neighbouring Syria.

Several armed factions including extremist groups have a foothold in the camp which has been plagued for years by intermittent clashes.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies