Jul 1, 7:33 AM EDT

Sectarian shooting wounds 7 people south of Lebanese capital



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BEIRUT (AP) -- Supporters of rival Lebanese factions clashed early on Wednesday in a coastal town south of Beirut, leaving several people wounded, the country's state news agency and a security official said.

The National News Agency said the fighting in the town of Saadiyat was between supports of the Sunni Future Movement and the Resistance Brigades, which is close to the Shiite Hezbollah group.

Sectarian tensions have increased in Lebanon since the start of Syria's crisis four years ago. The civil war has spilled over into Lebanon in the past, killing and wounding dozens.

According to a Lebanese security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, seven people were wounded.

The Lebanese army said one soldier was lightly wounded in the shooting, adding that troops are patrolling the area.

Also Wednesday, the military said in a statement that Lebanese troops killed five gunmen overnight. The gunmen were on the move between the Lebanese border town of Arsal and nearby fields, close to the Syrian border, the military said.

The militant Hezbollah group has been conducting military operations for weeks on the outskirts of Arsal and the Syrian side of the border against members of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.

Arsal has been tense since August last year when IS and Nusra Front fighters crossed into Arsal and captured more than 20 soldiers and policemen. They have killed four of them and are still holding the rest.

Since then, the army has fortified its positions in the town and almost daily shells suspected militant positions inside Lebanon.

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