BEIRUT (AP) — Gunfire erupted Sunday during a Hamas-organized funeral in a tense Palestinian refugee camp, leaving at least two people dead and seven injured, officials said.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said the gunfire was sparked by an altercation during the funeral. But Hamas spokesperson Ayman Shanaa told Palestinian media that gunmen opened fire at the mourners and put the death toll at four.
The Hamas member buried Sunday had died under disputed circumstances late Friday when the tense Burj Shamali was rocked by a series of explosions. The Palestinian Hamas group said an electrical short-circuit in a storage area for oxygen bottles caused the blast.
A Lebanese security official said the explosion happened in an ammunition depot, however. NNA had also reported an explosion in a Hamas arms warehouse in the camp, saying a number were killed and injured.
Sunday's funeral for Hamza Chahine drew scores of mourners. The gunfire broke out before his body arrived at the burial site.
Lebanese security forces don’t operate inside the refugee camps, where security is in the hands of Palestinian factions who often compete for clout.
A Lebanese security official said reports from the camp suggest clashes broke out between rival Palestinian factions during the funeral. The official said three were killed in the violence.
One Palestinian official said infiltrators used the occasion to shoot at the mourners. He said one of the injured is in critical condition. Another Palestinian official said during a 21-gun-salute for the deceased, errant shots killed two of the mourners. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Shanaa said Hamas was working to contain the fallout from the violence.
Lebanon is home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Many live in the 12 refugee camps that are scattered around the small Mediterranean country.