Scores reported killed and wounded in northern Lebanon clashes
Lebanese forces fought with al Qaeda-linked gunmen around a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon for a second straight day on Monday, security sources said.
During the day, Lebanese army gunners pounded hideouts of heavily armed Fatah al-Islam fighters in the Nahr el-Bared in an apparent effort to uproot the group. At least two gunboats from the Lebanese navy were observed in the Mediterranean off the northern coast, in what appeared to be an effort to bloc Fatah al-Islam's Marine supply route.
Sources in Nahr el-Bared, which has an estimated population of 40,000 refugees, told Naharnet some 200 fighters from Fatah al-Islam streamed across the narrow alleys of the camp opening fire from assault rifles at rescuers trying to evacuate civilians wounded in the cross-fire.
As fighting raged, Palestinian factions issued a statement saying about 50 people were killed and wounded by the cross-fire. The statement pleaded with the government of Premier Fouad Saniora to intervene and "protect the civilian population."
In a related development, Lebanese troops tightened control at entrances to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh near the southern port of Sidon after investigators found out that some of the Fatah al-Islam fighters in north Lebanon were citizens of the southern camp.
On Sunday, battles killed 57 people in Nahr el-Bared. At least 27 soldiers, 15 gunmen and 15 civilians were killed in Sunday's battles.
Meanwhile, a huge blast rocked Beirut's Ashrafiyeh neighborhood shortly before midnight, killing a 63-year-old woman and injuring 11 other people, police said. They said the bomb, which weighed about 15 kilograms, was believed to have been placed underneath a car in a parking lot adjacent to the ABC shopping mall in Ashrafiyeh.