TRIPOLI, Lebanon, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Two people were killed in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Thursday including a military commander from the Alawite minority shot dead on his way to work, security sources said.
Long-standing tensions between Alawites - a sect derived from Shi'ite Islam - and Sunni Muslims in the Mediterrannean city have been exacerbated by the increasingly sectarian war in neighbouring Syria, leading to frequent bouts of armed conflict.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite and the rebels fighting to topple him are overwhelmingly Sunni.
On Thursday morning, gunmen killed Abdel Rahman Youssef, a military leader in the pro-Syrian Arab Democratic Party, a day after three other people were wounded in clashes, security and party sources said.
The other man killed was Sunni, the sources said.
Youssef was a prominent figure in Tripoli's largely Alawite Jabal Mohsen district.
The city, Lebanon's second largest, was tense after the shooting, with schools shutting their doors and many people keeping away from sites of potential clashes, a witness said.
The fighting in Tripoli is part of a long list of security headaches faced by the new Lebanese government, which was formed on Saturday after 11 months of deadlock.
A twin suicide bomb attack against the Iranian cultural centre in Beirut on Wednesday killed at least four people and highlighted the impact of Syria's war on its much smaller neighbour.
(Reporting by Nazih Siddiq; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz)
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