Intense battles have engulfed a Palestinian refugee camp in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, killing a further nine civilians on Monday. Thick black smoke billowed from the camp as government troops target Fatah al-Islam militants with tank shelling. The Palestinian group has responded with grenades and machine gun fire.
Clashes over the past two days have claimed 71 lives, in the bloodiest internal violence in Lebanon since the end of the civil war 17 years ago. The US State department said Lebanese security forces were justified in their attacks on the camp, accusing militants of being “committed to violence”.
Fatah al-Islam is based at the Nahr al-Bared camp near Tripoli. It is home to 40,000 refugees. Palestinian refugees elsewhere in northern Lebanon have taken to the streets to protest against the Lebanese army’s shelling. Angry demonstrators have burned tyres and created road blocks.
In Tripoli, the bodies of two Lebanese soldiers killed in yesterday’s fighting were buried with a large crowd joining the procession. Fears are growing the death tool could rise as rescue workers struggle to reach the wounded in the camp.