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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK
Lebanon Islamist clashes spread
A Lebanese civil defence worker throws a gas barrel from the balcony of a damaged building before it explodes following clashes between Lebanese soldiers and suspected al-Qaeda gunmen in Tripoli.
More than 170 people have been killed in a month
At least 10 people have been killed in fighting between Lebanese troops and suspected Islamic militants in the northern city of Tripoli.

Two civilians, one soldier, a policeman and at least six Islamist gunmen are said to have been killed in the fight.

It came after the army raided an apartment of a suspected militant in the Abu Samra district on Saturday.

The clashes mark a shift in fighting away from the nearby Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp.

The latest violence began when gunmen fired at soldiers who were trying to raid their apartment, the Reuters news agency reported.

The army responded with an attack, blocking off the area and bringing in reinforcements.
FATAH AL-ISLAM
Split from Palestinian group Fatah al-Intifada in late 2006
Believed to have 150-200 armed men, based in Nahr al-Bared camp
Denies al-Qaeda links but says it endorses its ideas
Has links with Syrian intelligence, Lebanon says
Leader is Shaker al-Abssi

At least twelve people were wounded in the stand-off.

Earlier, four soldiers were killed in fighting with Islamist militants in the Nahr al-Bared camp.

A bomb killed three soldiers and a sniper shot dead another.

The army responded by shelling the militants, who are from the Fatah al-Islam group and have been besieged at the camp for more than a month.

A month of fighting has left more than 170 people dead, in Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-90 civil war.

Out of bounds

Nahr al-Bared was home to 31,000 people before the fighting broke out. Approximately 2,000 refugees are still believed to be inside the camp.

Large parts of the camp have been left in ruins after a bitter struggle that began in late May when the Lebanese army tried to arrest a number of alleged members of Fatah al-Islam.

map

Lebanon has 12 refugee camps housing more than 350,000 Palestinians, many of whom fled or were forced to leave their homes when Israel was created in 1948.

There is a long-standing convention that Lebanon's army does not go into the camps, leaving security inside to militant groups.

The Lebanese government believes Fatah al-Islam is backed by Syrian intelligence, a claim Syria denies.

Syria has closed a border crossing in the north-east of Lebanon for "security" reasons.

Damascus closed two other crossings when fighting first broke out in the camp, also for safety reasons. Only the Masnaa crossing remains open.


SEE ALSO
Gun battles flare at Lebanon camp
11 Jun 07 |  Middle East
Analysis: Lebanon's new flashpoint
23 May 07 |  Middle East
Profile: Fatah al-Islam
21 May 07 |  Middle East
Timeline: Lebanon
04 Jun 07 |  Country profiles



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