[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Lebanon militant 'escaped siege'
Sheikh Shaker al-Abssi at a news conference on 13 March 2007
Shaker al-Abssi set up Fatah al-Islam in northern Lebanon last year
DNA tests on a body earlier identified as the leader of Islamist militants in a refugee camp stormed by the Lebanese army last week have proved negative.

Prosecutor-general Saeed Mirza said the tests countered the identification of Fatah al-Islam leader Sheikh Shaker al-Abssi's body by his wife last week.

Mr Mirza said he now believed Abssi fled the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp a day before the army stormed it.

More than 400 people died during the 105-day siege, half of them soldiers.

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

Earlier, Lebanon's Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, opened a conference in Beirut aimed at raising funds to rebuild Nahr al-Bared.

Mr Siniora said $382 million (188 million) was needed to allow residents to return to their homes. In the meantime, many have been living in cramped conditions in another refugee camp near Tripoli.

'Good condition'

In a statement, Mr Mirza said the DNA of the body being stored at the Tripoli Governmental Hospital did not match that of Abssi's children or brother.

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

He then revealed that a captured Yemeni militant had told police that he had escaped Nahr al-Bared on 1 September with Abssi and several others.

"Shaker al-Abssi was in good condition and was wearing a suicide belt and carrying a Kalashnikov rifle, magazines and hand grenades," the statement quoted the Yemeni as saying.

A well-known Palestinian militant, Abssi was sentenced to death in absentia in Jordan for killing a US diplomat, Laurence Foley, in Amman in 2002.

He was later jailed in Syria before he set up Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared last year.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific