Lebanese army hammers militants in Palestinian camp
NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon, Saturday (Reuters) - Lebanese troops shelled al Qaeda-inspired militants entrenched in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp today, almost three weeks after fighting broke out.Sporadic machinegun fire reverberated and artillery shells rocked the edges of the camp from early morning onwards, especially at the northern and eastern entrances of the camp, in which Fatah al-Islam fighters have vowed to fight to the death.
Television footage showed heavy black smoke billowing from many of the camp's buildings, some riddled with bullet-holes or punctured by shells. “The army is trying to control positions that the militants are using to target the army,” a military source said. “The militants sometimes intensify their efforts (and launch stronger attacks), and sometimes resort to sniper attacks from these positions.”
Only a few of the 40,000 residents now remain in a camp short of food, water and electricity.
At least 115 people, including 47 soldiers and 38 militants, have been killed since the fighting began, making it Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war.“There is no movement between the camp's neighbourhoods because some shells are falling in civilian areas. The basic necessities of life aren't available,” a resident of the camp, on the north Lebanese coast, said by telephone.
The latest mediation efforts by Lebanese Islamists to try to convince the militants to surrender have had no success.
But Lebanese sources said the Islamic Action Front, which includes Sunni politicians and clerics, and a grouping of Palestinian clerics, would continue efforts to find a solution.