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Sun 20 Jul 2008 02:44 PM

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Three die after Lebanese camp brawl

Three Palestinians killed after argument between rivals turns violent in refugee camp.

Three Palestinians have been killed after an argument between rival factions in a refugee camp in Lebanon turned violent, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.

The fighting broke out late on Saturday in the Ain El-Helweh camp in south Lebanon, the largest in the country, between Islamist group Jund Al-Sham and a joint force of Palestinian factions which polices the camp.

Those killed were Walid Sallum, from a committee formed to resolve differences between rival factions, a Jund Al-Sham leader Shehade Jawhar and Abed Jawali, a member of the group.

Jawhar, who was wanted in Lebanon for murder and who had fought in Iraq, died of bullet wounds on Sunday, the Palestinian official told newswire AFP.

Tensions remained high on Sunday, but efforts were under way by the factions to prevent a further outbreak of violence.

The factional force tasked with security is dominated by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, of which Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement is a principal member.

Ain El-Helweh, near the southern port city of Sidon, has in recent months become the theatre of clashes between Fatah and Jund Al-Sham, a Sunni group comprising mainly Lebanese without a clear hierarchy.

Members of extremist groups believed to have links with Al-Qaeda have settled in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps in recent years, especially in Ain El-Helweh, which has a population of more than 45,000.

The camps are outside the control of Lebanese authorities, with Palestinian factions in charge of security.