Two Lebanese troops died in overnight fighting with al-Qaeda-inspired militants barricaded in a Palestinian refugee camp in the country's north, a senior military official said Friday. The deaths raised to 121 the number of troops killed since fighting with Fatah Islam members entrenched in the Nahr el-Bared camp erupted May 20, the official said, according to the AP.
Lebanese forces pounded Fatah Islam's remaining positions inside the camp with tank and artillery fire, in the latest effort to force the militants to surrender. "The army will continue its military operations until all Fatah Islam members give themselves up or are killed," the official said.
Fighting was raging in densely populated neighborhoods of the camp where most of the militants are thought to be holed up, the official added.
The state-run National News Agency said artillery fire reverberated as the army advanced, capturing more buildings, positions and hideouts inside the camp. It reported that in one of the captured buildings, the army uncovered a two-room fully furnished shelter with arms, ammunition, military uniforms and detonators. The report said the shelter in the camp's Saasaa neighborhood was equipped with surveillance cameras to allow its occupants to see what was going on outside.
The military official said the army has seized more sophisticated weapons and equipment left behind by fleeing militants. The army is also "dismantling booby traps and cleaning bomb-rigged buildings."