TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP):
Five soldiers were killed and 15 others wounded in clashes yesterday between the Lebanese army and Fatah Islam fighters putting up a stiff resistance from their hideouts inside a Palestinian refugee camp.
Thick black smoke billowed from Nahr el-Bared camp on the outskirts of the northern port city of Tripoli, as the army pounded suspected positions of the al-Qaida-inspired fighters throughout the day.
At times, the military's bombardment reached 15 shells a minute, according to the state-run National News Agency. The army sent in heavy reinforcements, including armoured carriers and special combat units, but ambulances were also seen racing toward the camp.
Lebanese residents living near Nahr el-Bared said the bombardment was one of the heaviest since June 1, when the Lebanese army - using tanks and artillery - launched an offensive to flush the Fatah Islam militants out of the camp.
But the militants' stiff resistance and the army's rising death toll underline the difficult task the Lebanese authorities face in uprooting the fighters.
Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media, said the five soldiers died in the fighting yesterday. Some of the wounded were in serious condition, they said.