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SIDON, Lebanon (AP) - Residents fled the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon on Sunday as clashes between security forces and radical Islamists intensified for the third day.

Lebanon's Palestinian camps mainly fall outside the jurisdiction of the Lebanese security services.

Clashes were halted on Tuesday morning after reports that the "Bilal Badr" group had left the neighborhood where it had taken refuge and had prevented the joint Palestinian security force from deploying.

Wednesday, an exchange of fire erupted in the camp was set to delay the deployment of the joint force.

Lebanon's army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, where security is managed by joint committees of Palestinian factions.

Gunmen loyal to Badr agreed to leave the area before the joint force moved in.

Palestinian officials in the camp called Sunday on remaining members of Badr's group to surrender with their weapons.

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Ambulances are rushing the wounded to hospitals near the Ein el-Hilweh camp as the sounds of rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire echo from inside. There are some 450,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 refugee camps in Lebanon.

The fighting has prompted security measures outside the camp, which Lebanese security forces do not enter by long-standing agreement.

NNA said the fighting led to the closure of a main highway linking the port city of Sidon with southern Lebanon.

The spokesman for the Council of Palestinian Scholars in Lebanon said the radical groups were issuing fatwas authorising the killing of people they disagreed with.

Palestinians in Lebanon are prohibited from working in professional jobs and have few legal protections.

The United Nations says some 55,000 people live in Ein El Hilweh. Lebanese authorities have paused construction of a concrete barrier around the camp.


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