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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 May 2007, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Soldier dies in Lebanon fighting
A picture dated 22 May and obtained by AFP 27 May of wrecked car in Nahr al-Bared camp
Thousands have fled the fighting in Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon
A Lebanese soldier has been killed in sporadic fighting between the army and Islamist militants entrenched in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.

It is not known if there were any casualties among the militants.

For the past nine days, hundreds of soldiers supported by tanks have laid siege to the Nahr al-Bared camp where Fatah al-Islam militants are based.

Dozens have died, including civilians, although the UN estimates that about 25,000 people have now fled the camp.

But Nahr al-Bared houses around 31,000 people and some people remain trapped inside.

As calm returned on Tuesday, an International Committee for the Red Cross convoy entered the camp to deliver much-needed drinking water, food and medicine.

Mediation efforts

There has been sporadic fighting on almost a daily basis but few reports of the fierce gun battles witnessed during the earlier days of the stand-off, as negotiations continue.

FATAH AL-ISLAM
map
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

Since Sunday a delegation of clerics from the Union of Palestinian Scholars has been leading mediation efforts with the approval of Lebanese officials, Palestinian factions and Fatah al-Islam.

"We are still at the beginning of the mediation road, but we are determined to continue and to work as fast as possible," AFP quoted cleric Shaykh Mohammad al-Hajj as saying on Monday.

The Lebanese government has accused Fatah al-Islam of being a criminal gang masquerading behind Islam and the Palestinian cause.

The militants say they will not surrender to what they call Zionist Americans and their loyalists.

The fighting at the camp is the bloodiest internal conflict in Lebanon since the civil war ended 17 years ago.

It began after security forces raided a building in Tripoli to arrest suspects in a bank robbery. Fatah al-Islam militants then attacked army posts at the entrances to the camp.

A large force of Lebanese troops hit back, bombarding the camp and storming a building on the outskirts of Tripoli.


SEE ALSO
Lebanon army 'hit by militants'
28 May 07 |  Middle East
Hezbollah head warns against raid
26 May 07 |  Middle East
US military aid lands in Beirut
25 May 07 |  Middle East
Press focus on refugee plight
24 May 07 |  Middle East
Analysis: Lebanon's new flashpoint
23 May 07 |  Middle East
The Lebanese crisis explained
22 May 07 |  Middle East
Profile: Fatah al-Islam
21 May 07 |  Middle East



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