Lebanese soldiers die in clashes

Fighting flares at Nahr al-Bared camp as efforts continue to get civilians removed.

    Most of Nahr al-Bared's 40,000 residents left the refugee camp soon after the fighting began [AFP]
    Meanwhile, a spokesman for a group of Palestinian clerics who are acting as mediators said they are without news from fighters inside the refugee camp over arrangements to evacuate civilians.
     
    No contact
     
    On Thursday, Sheikh Mohammed al-Hajj of the Palestinian Clerics' Association said: "Despite all of our efforts to reach Fatah al-Islam, we have not made contact with them since on Tuesday."
     
    Most of the camp's 40,000 residents fled to a nearby Palestinian refugee camp in the early days of the battle.
     
    Negotiations to evacuate the remaining civilians began overnight on Monday after Abu Salim Taha, a Fatah al-Islam spokesman, contacted the clerics seeking a way out from the refugee camp for an estimated 20 women and 50 children.
     
    The Lebanese army agreed to the request on Tuesday.
     
    Loudspeakers and flyers
     
    On Thursday, al-Hajj said that the Palestinian clerics were planning to meet the Lebanese army command later in the day to discuss the possiblity of using loudspeakers or dropping flyers over the Nahr al-Bared camp in order to reach the fighters.
     
    The number of women and children holed up with the fighters is estimated at 75, he said.
     
    According to a source close to the negotiations, among those to be evacuated are the wife of Shaker al-Abssi, the Fatah al-Islam chief, and the widow of Abu Hureira, his number two, who was killed in recent weeks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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