Gunmen kill 2 at funeral for Hezbollah commander in Lebanon

BEIRUT (AP) — At least two people were killed on Sunday south of the Lebanese capital when gunmen opened fire at the funeral of a Hezbollah commander who was killed a day earlier, an official from the group said.

The Lebanese military said they deployed in the coastal town of Khaldeh to contain the tension after heavy fire — including from rocket-propelled grenades — terrorized residents and brought traffic to a standstill. The gunmen remain at large.

The military warned it would fire at any source of fire or anyone carrying weapons on the main road. It said one of its soldiers was injured in the shooting.

The violence is rooted in a personal vendetta. Lebanese media reported that a man from one of the Sunni Arab tribes of Khaldeh opened fire during a wedding party at a club on Saturday night, killing Ali Chebli, a fighter in Hezbollah.

Chebli’s killer was apprehended, and his family explained the attack as revenge. It accused Chebli of killing a 15-year-old relative of theirs in shooting a year earlier. The family, of the Sunni Arab tribe, said in a statement that authorities never brought Chebli to justice because he was under the protection of the powerful Hezbollah group.

The Hezbollah official said gunmen ambushed Chebli’s funeral procession when it reached the family home, firing at the mourners, killing his brother-in-law and a friend, and injuring others. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

The army deployed to defuse the tensions and free the family, who had taken shelter in the house with the body. The official called for the perpetrators of the violence to be brought to trial.

Sectarian conflict in the area was sparked last year after a dispute over a Shiite religious banner that was hoisted in the area of the Sunni Arab tribes. Tensions often flare in the area.

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