Local forces deploy in Ain al-Hilweh after clashes

A local security force deployed across Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon on Thursday (April 13th), ending a week of sporadic clashes with an extremist group, AFP reported.

The fighting, which left nine dead and more than 50 wounded, had prompted many to flee their homes and forced schools and shops in and around the camp to close.

The local security force, which includes 100 fighters from several Palestinian factions, was able to deploy throughout the camp after a ceasefire late Wednesday night, a commander said.

Lebanon's army does not enter the camp by long-standing convention.

"Security forces deployed in al-Tiri neighbourhood, which had been the focal point of the clashes," the commander said, adding that extremist groups had withdrawn from some areas.

Fighting erupted late Friday (April 7th) after Palestinian factions deployed throughout Ain al-Hilweh as part of an operation aimed at combating the influence of a group linked to wanted militant Bilal Badr.

The commander said Badr, wanted on suspicion of "terrorism", firearms offences and belonging to an armed group, had refused to give himself up to Palestinian security forces to be handed over to the Lebanese authorities.

Local activist Asef Moussa said "dozens of young people will volunteer on Friday to clean the streets and clear up the damage and rubble left by the fighting".

The UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, said it welcomed the return to calm and was working to restore its services in the camp as quickly as possible.

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