November 12, 2013 / 10:13 AM / 7 years ago

Lebanese pro-Hezbollah cleric killed in drive-by shooting

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed a Lebanese Sunni Muslim cleric who supported the Shi’ite militant Hezbollah group in the northern city of Tripoli on Tuesday, security sources said.

Saadeddine Ghiyyeh, an official in the Islamic Action Front, was shot multiple times in his car as he was leaving home.

A photo on the National News Agency’s website appeared to show Ghiyyeh lying face down in his car with a head wound.

Tripoli has seen on-off clashes between Sunni Muslim militants who support a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect, which is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

Ghiyyeh was a Sunni, but supported Hezbollah, and was close to prominent pro-Assad figures in Tripoli. In September, he was wounded when his car exploded moments after he parked it.

On August 23, twin bomb blasts outside a Sunni mosque in Tripoli killed at least 42 people and wounded hundreds in the deadliest bombing there since Lebanon’s own 1975-90 civil war.

A week earlier, a huge car bomb killed at least 24 people in a Hezbollah-controlled part of Beirut.

Lebanon’s political and sectarian divisions have widened since the Syrian conflict began with peaceful protests against Assad in March 2011 and later descended into full-scale warfare.

Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Alistair Lyon

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