Monday, May 21, 2007

Lebanese troops, militants battle for second day

Lebanese troops, militants battle for second day

Lebanese troops fought with al Qaeda-linked militants around a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon for a second straight day on Monday, security sources said. They said soldiers, who had tightened their grip around Nahr al-Bared camp after battles that killed 57 people on Sunday, were shelling positions of Fatah al-Islam at the entrances of the camp. There was no immediate word on casualties from the new fighting. Plumes of smoke rose into the sky as tank shells crashed in to the coastal camp, home to some 40,000 refugees. Militants were firing grenades and machinegun fire at the army posts, witnesses said.

Political sources said the Lebanese army was holding back from entering the camp to pursue the gunmen in line with a 1969 Arab agreement banning it from the country's 12 refugee centers.

At least 27 soldiers, 15 militants and 15 civilians were killed in Sunday's battles, the worst internal fighting since Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

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