BEIRUT — Lebanese Shiite and Sunni groups traded machine gun fire and grenades in Beirut on Tuesday, killing two people and wounding several others just blocks from a busy downtown packed with tourists at this time of year.
Lebanese soldiers cordoned off the area and prevented journalists from entering, but the crackle of sniper fire and popping of rocket propelled grenades were still audible.
Witnesses said gunmen could be seen standing on the corners and peering down alleyways in the neighborhood while families ran for cover.
The shootout erupted between supporter of the Shiite Hezbollah and a Sunni conservative group in the mixed residential area of Bourj Abu Haidar near Beirut's downtown, security officials said.
Hezbollah was battling the pro-Syrian Sunni Muslim Association of Islamic Charitable Projects, known as the Al-Ahbash group, that has a history of feuding with the Shiite group, they added.
The officials said Mohammed Fawaz, a Hezbollah official from the area, and Fawaz Omeirat, of Al-Ahbash group, were killed in the fighting.