Masked gunmen riding a motorcycle assassinated a Sunni sheik on Tuesday in Tripoli in northern Lebanese, media reports said.

The two attackers opened fire at Sheik Saad El-Deen Ghieh’s car as he was driving by in Tripoli, 85 kilometers north of Beirut, reported the official National News Agency. Ghieh was taken to hospital and died shortly afterward.

Soldiers were deployed to the area to prevent fighting following the attack. Tripoli has long been the scene of sectarian clashes related to the Syrian civil war, with two neighborhoods split between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

The Bab Tabbaneh district is largely Sunni Muslim, as are Syria’s rebels who have led the uprising against Assad’s rule. The Jabal Mohsen neighborhood is dominated by residents of Assad’s Alawite sect, a Shiite offshoot.

Street battles have killed scores of Tripoli residents, and two car bombs outside Sunni mosques in August killed at least 50 people.

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