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Mon 9 Jun 2008 05:44 PM

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Sectarian violence flares in Lebanon

Four wounded in clashes between supporters of anti-Syrian majority and Hezbollah-led opposition.

Four people were wounded in armed clashes in Lebanon overnight between supporters of the anti-Syrian majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition, hospital sources said on Monday.

Rivals opened fire with machine guns, mortar rounds and rockets in the village of Saadnayel in the Bekaa Valley in the east of the country, a correspondent with newswire AFP said.

Sporadic fighting has broken out between rival factions in Lebanon despite a deal agreed last month between the mainly Sunni parliamentary majority and the Shi'ite-led opposition aimed at ending a protracted political crisis.

Trouble flared in Saadnayel after a row between a Sunni and a Shi'ite, which led to supporters from both sides becoming involved, witnesses told AFP. The army moved into the area on Monday, but did not intervene in the clashes.

Lebanon has endured a tense 18-month political crisis that drove it to the brink of civil war in early May, when 65 people were killed in sectarian violence.

Rival factions reached a deal in Doha on May 21 that led to the election of army chief Michel Sleiman as president after a six-month vacuum.

But the anti-Syrian ruling bloc, backed by the West and most Arab states, and the opposition, which is supported by Iran and Syria, continue to squabble over the formation of a new government.

The Bekaa region has a significant Hezbollah influence and has been spared much of the violence which has rocked the country.