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Palestinian official assassinated in Sidon

A blast ripped through Mohammad Fethi Zeidan's car outside the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp.

Sidon blast. (Image via LBC)

BEIRUT – An explosion has ripped through a vehicle reportedly transporting a Fatah official outside Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, raising the specter of further fighting in the troubled camp.

 

Lebanon’s state National News Agency reported that a vehicle detonated near the Al-Amerkan roundabout near the Sidon National Evangelical School outside the entrance of Ain al-Hilweh, which has been the site of recurring clashes, including a round of deadly fighting in early April.

 

The NNA added the blast killed Mohammad Fethi Zeidan, aka Zorro, the commander of the mainstream Palestinian Movement for the nearby Miyeh Miyeh refugee camp.

 

Ain al-HilwehSmoke rises at the site of Tuesday's explosion.

 

The head of Fatah's security wing in Ain al-Hilweh, Mahmoud Abdel Hamid al-Issa, aka Al-Lino, said that he was in possession of information "confirming that an improvised explosive device had been placed in the vehicle," indicating a targeted assassination.

 

Lebanon's Armed Forces, for its part, issued a statement that a 1-kilogram IED exploded in Zeidan's vehicle at approximately 12:00 p.m., killing him instantly.

 

Tuesday’s explosion raised fears that the security situation in Sidon’s Palestinian camps—which are located within the seaside city south of Lebanon’s capital—would worsen.

 

Al-Jadeed’s correspondent reported that schools and universities in Sidon shut down “in anticipation of any security developments.”

 

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk abruptly left the cabinet session in Beirut’s Grand Serail after news emerged of the assassination.

 

The latest round of clashes that started on April 1 in Ain al-Hilweh pitted Fatah members against militants in the Islamist Jund al-Sham group, leaving at least one Fatah fighter dead.

 

The clashes died down after a fragile ceasefire was put into effect, however residents voiced concerns that the fighting would pick back up. 

Site of Tuesday's blast in Sidon. (Image via LBC)

According to the report, an improvised explosives device had been planted in Zeidan’s car, indicating a targeted assassination.