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Baalbek clashes - hezbollah residentsBaalbeck, lebanon – Four people were killed Saturday and at least four others were wounded in a gun battle between Hezbollah gunmen and armed residents in Baalbek, east Lebanon, security sources said.

Two Hezbollah members were killed in the fighting that occurred at a checkpoint that the militant group set up near Baalbek’s main market area.

The armed residents were from the Shiyyah family , a Sunni Muslim clan

The Hezbollah members that were killed were identified as Imad Ballouq and Hisham Wehbi.

A statement from the Army earlier said light weapons were used in the battles.

Following the incident, members of Hezbollah raided a number of houses in Baalbek, arrested a number of people and confiscated weapons from their homes, according to security sources

The incident was the second this week in Baalbek, a stronghold of the powerful Shiite movement across the border from Syria.

Lebanon has been on edge as a result of the civil war in neighboring Syria, with many Lebanese divided between supporters of Presidents Bashar Assad’s regime and the opposition.

Lebanese Sunni Muslims back the mostly Sunni rebel movement fighting to topple Assad. Shiites back Assad’s regime that is dominated by members of the president’s minority Alawite sect — an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

“Tension is very high. The streets are empty,” a Baalbek resident told The Associated Press by telephone. “I can hear automatic rifle fire.”

Hezbollah set up checkpoints in its strongholds after an Aug. 15 blast in Beirut’s southern suburbs killed 27 people. Many resent the checkpoints.

Update:

– Explosions were heard throughout Baalbek as army continues its raids in search for gunmen, Future TV reported

– Hezbollah members burning a number of shops in Baalbek’s market amid intermittent gunfire, Future TV reported

– Hezbollah members kidnapped Bilal Mahmoud al-Rifai, Rami Mohammad al-Rifai in Baalbek

– The other 2 that were killed were identified as Ali Mustapha al-Rifai and Ali Sami al-Masri, who was riding a motorcycle at the time he was shot and killed.

– President Suleiman will preside over a security meeting at the Baabda Palace at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the situation in Baalbeck.

– Renewed clashes in Baalbeck

– Mohammed Ali Soleh was killed by sniper gunfire in the renewal of clashes in Baalbek.

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