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Beirut – A gunman shot dead at least seven people Tuesday, including five Syrians, and left their bodies in three locations in a mountain village southeast of the capital Beirut, state news and a legislator from the village said.

A motive for the killings was not immediately known, said the state-run National News Agency. It said the shooter fled to nearby fields and was being chased by security forces.

Such shootings in Lebanon, where many people keep rifles or pistols in their homes, are rare. Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees and other Syrians who are residents.

NNA said a pump action rifle and a Kalashnikov assault rifle were used in the shootings.

Two Lebanese and five Syrians were found dead in three locations in the village of Baakline, local LBC TV reported. The station later reported the number of fatalities had risen to nine, including two children and their parents.

“It is similar to the shootings that happen in America,” Marwan Hamadeh, a member of parliament from Baakline, told reporters in Beirut. He urged security forces to detain the shooter, saying “there are some indications that he might be a mentally unstable person.”

Baakline’s mayor, Abdullah al-Ghoseini, told the daily An-Nahar newspaper that the motive behind the shooting was unclear, adding that it took place in an area that includes housing units for Syrian workers.

The shooting comes as Lebanon experiences its worst economic and financial crisis in decades. A crash in the value of the local currency against the U.S. dollar has led to a sharp increase in prices.

Anti-government protests resumed Tuesday calling on the Cabinet to work on improving living conditions in the nearly bankrupt country.

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