SIDON, Lebanon: Two men were killed, and three others wounded, one a Hezbollah official, during clashes in the Taamir Ain al-Hilweh neighborhood on the outskirts of Sidon Sunday.
The Hezbollah official was identified as Zeid Daher.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked the interior minister to call for an emergency meeting of Sidon’s Central Security Council, a statement by Mikati’s office said.
Mikati also asked the Lebanese Army command to take the necessary measures to control the situation and arrest those involved in the incident.
“We call on everyone to remain calm and implement restraint in such a delicate situation. The authorities will not tolerate messing with the security of citizens,” Mikati's statement said.
Tensions were high in the city after Sheikh Ahmad Assir called over the weekend for his supporters to rally outside the Sidon Mosque of Bilal Bin Rabah.
Armored Lebanese Army vehicles deployed Sunday in the town of Haret Saida after the controversial preacher asked his supporters to rally in the southern town via social media networks, Facebook and Twitter.
An eye witness told The Daily Star that around armed Assir supporters attacked Taamir and removed a photo of Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah from the neighborhood.
The witness, Abu Ali Dirani, said Assir arrived in a car, while his supporters were walking.
“They didn't have sticks, they had weapons,” said Dirani.
The Sunni Salafist sheikh earlier called for the removal of Hezbollah banners from Sidon and gave Sunday as a deadline for such banners to be removed.
Almost two weeks before the commemoration of Ashura, Amal movement supporters in Haret Saida were also making preparations for the day, in which Shiites mourn the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet.
Assir has repeatedly voiced fierce criticism of Hezbollah and slammed the party over its stance regarding the uprising in Syria.
“I am not against Shiite, I am against Hezbollah because it supports the Syrian regime and because it killed Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan,” Assir told The Daily Star earlier Sunday.
Asked if he was the decision-maker in the southern city of Sidon, Assir said “I am the decision-maker against Hezbollah and its provocations in Sidon.”