North Lebanon: Sporadic gunfire reported as government issues ultimatum
Sporadic gunfire erupted Thursday inside the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp where Islamist gunmen are holed up after refusing an ultimatum by Lebanon's defense minister to surrender or face a military onslaught. Lebanon's leader vowed to uproot the fighters.
It was not clear what sparked shooting in the camp Thursday, as a truce appeared to hold since Tuesday afternoon. Gunmen from Fatah Islam group barricaded in the Palestinian refugee camp vowed not to give up and to fight any Lebanese assault.
Lebanese sources said 13 Fatah al-Islam members were shot and killed by the army as they tried to flee Nahr al-Bared by boat to the southern refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh. An Nahar newspaper also said Lebanese troops dragged the bodies of 40 Fatah al-Islam fighters, many of them from different African nationalities.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, in an address to the nation, said that his government would stamp out Fatah Islam. "We will work to root out and strike at terrorism, but we will embrace and protect our brothers in the camps," Saniora said in a televised speech.
Saniora said Fatah Islam is "a terrorist organization that claims to be Islamic and to defend Palestine" and was "attempting to ride on the suffering and the struggle of the Palestinian people."