Fierce fighting erupted in and around a besieged Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon yesterday as Lebanese troops resumed bombardment of al-Qaeda-inspired militants holed up edinside
The troops, backed by heavy artillery and tank fire, blasted suspected hideouts of the Fatah Islam militants inside the Nahr el-Bared camp on the outskirts of the port city of Tripoli, as the battle against the militants entered its fifth week, witnesses said.
The intense bombardment sent thick black and white smoke billowing into the air and started fires in several shell-punctured buildings in the camp.
In Sunday's clashes, troops entirely destroyed the militants' main headquarters located on the edge of the camp, according to the state-run National News Agency (NNA). But the whereabouts of Fatah Islam leader Shaker Youssef al-Absi and his top aides remain unknown.
After inspecting troops deployed around the Nahr el-Bared camp, Lebanese Army commander General Michel Suleiman said on Sunday that the decision to eliminate the Fatah Islam militants was "final and irreversible."
"There is no other way out for these terrorists except to lay down their arms and surrender to justice before it is too late," Suleiman said in a statement carried by the NNA.
The fighting between Lebanese troops and Fatah Islam militants has claimed more than 150 lives -- 69 soldiers, at least 60 Fatah Islam militants and more than 20 civilians -- since its outbreak on May 20 -- the worst internal violence to engulf Lebanon since the 1975 to 1990 civil war.
A senior military official said on Sunday there was "no time limit" for the army's plan to close in on the militants, but would not comment on a report from Lebanon's leading An-Nahar newspaper that said the military was close to winning the fight.
"The army is taking field measures to put an end to this abnormal situation," the military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements.
Mediation attempts by Palestinian factions and Islamic clerics to find a peaceful solution to the crisis have so far failed.
The Lebanese government insists that Fatah Islam militants surrender before the army stops its offensive.
However, the group's leaders have pledged to fight to death.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year