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Last Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
New explosions rock Lebanon camp
Lebanese soldiers patrol adjacent to the Nahr al-Bared camp
The siege was Lebanon's worst internal violence since the civil war
There have been explosions and gunfire at a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, one day after troops captured it from Islamist militants.

Lebanese soldiers were seen rushing into Nahr al-Bared to hunt down a number of Fatah al-Islam fighters who survived the offensive on Sunday.

Earlier, troops combed the camp's heavily bombed buildings looking for booby traps and unexploded munitions.

More than 300 people died during the 105-day siege, half of them soldiers.

The violence, which also caused over 30,000 Palestinian refugees to flee the camp, was Lebanon's worst internal strife since the 1975-1991 civil war.

Intense fighting

The hour of intense fighting erupted near the eastern edge of Nahr al-Bared on Monday as army units patrolled through the camp in search for remnants of Fatah al-Islam.

The BBC's Mike Sergeant, outside the camp, says he heard more than a dozen powerful explosions and several bursts of gunfire.

FATAH AL-ISLAM
map
Split from Palestinian group Fatah al-Intifada in late 2006
In May, had 150-200 armed men in Nahr al-Bared camp
Denies al-Qaeda links but says it endorses its ideas
Has links with Syrian intelligence, Lebanon says
Leader Shaker al-Abssi now reported dead

However, the Lebanese army now appears to have re-established its control, our correspondent says.

Local LBC TV reported later that two soldiers were injured in the clashes, which it said started after several gunmen opened fire on troops and threw a hand grenade.

The army responded with gun and artillery fire, LBC added.

The blasts came as local residents celebrated the end of the three-month siege on close to the camp and in nearby Tripoli.

Helicopters flew overhead as drivers hooted their horns and young men danced in the road.

Thousands of refugees are demanding an early return to the camp, but from the edge of the camp our correspondent says the devastation inside is clearly visible.

Almost every building has been badly damaged, many have been completely destroyed. Clouds of black smoke continue to rise from the rubble.

'State control'

At least 39 militants and three soldiers were killed, the army said, after militants attempted to break out of the besieged camp at dawn on Sunday. Another 20 militants were said to have been captured.

The authorities are trying to identify bodies of the dead militants, in particular that of Fatah al-Islam's leader, Shaker al-Abssi.

Local residents applaud Lebanese troops after the end of the siege (3 September 2007)
Local residents have been celebrating the end of the siege

Reports say his wife has identified his body at a hospital in Tripoli, but authorities have said they will not confirm his death until DNA tests are completed.

Prime Minister Fuad Siniora made a televised speech to the country saying the capture of the camp was "an hour of pride, victory and joy".

Mr Siniora said the Lebanese government would rebuild Nahr al-Bared but added that the camp would be placed under the authority of "only the Lebanese state".

Historically, UN-administered Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have been self-governing and beyond the control the state.

Fatah al-Islam, which has been linked to al-Qaeda, emerged in 2006 when it split from Fatah al-Intifada (Fatah Uprising), a Syrian-backed Palestinian group based in Lebanon.

The Lebanese government has also linked Fatah al-Islam to the Syrian intelligence services. Officials in Damascus and Fatah al-Islam spokesmen denied the connection.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Scenes of celebration outside the camp





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