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Bloodiest fighting in Lebanon since civil war

Bloodiest fighting in Lebanon since civil war
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In Lebanon, at least 11 soldiers and eight others have died in battles with a Palestinian extremist group, which has been linked to al-Qaeda.

In Tripoli security forces tried to arrest members of Fatah al-Islam whom they suspected of carrying out a bank robbery.

A little further north, the Lebanese army said they came under attack outside the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.

The army had strengthened its presence there, after the government accused Fatah al-Islam of carrying out two fatal bus bomings near Beirut in February.

Lebanon says the group is not connected to any traditional Palestinian organisation, but claims it is backed by Syria, something Damascus denies.

The Lebanese Minister of State, Michel Faraoun says his country’s forces are closing in.

“Lately the Lebanese Army and security forces had surrounded them and tightened up in order to bring some of its members to justice,” he said.

A communique claiming to be from the militant group, sent to a news agency in Beirut, said they would “open the gates of fire” in Lebanon, and told the army not to be provocative.

Under a 1969 Arab agreement, Lebanese troops cannot enter Palestinian refugee camps.

Instead they lobbed shells into the settlement from outside.