Fighting erupts between Lebanese army and Islamist group

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Gun battles erupted today as the Internal Security Forces of Lebanon, mainly the police and the Lebanese Army, tried to arrest suspects of a bank robbery that occurred a day earlier in Amyoun, southeast Tripoli. Clashes erupted between the Lebanese Army and a Palestinian Islamist group, Fatah al-Islam, in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp early morning just after police raided a militant-occupied apartment. Twenty-two ISF personnels and over ten militants and civilians were killed or injured.

Fatah al-Islam is a Palestinian Islamist group believed to be supported by neighboring Syria, which is accused by the Lebanese government of attempting to destabilize the country. However, the leader of Fatah al-Islam is on the run from Syrian authorities, and Syria has shut down two of its border crossings into Lebanon for security reasons.

As the battle between the ISF and the Islamist group went on, Fatah al-Islam warned that the "Gates of Hell" would be opened all over Lebanon if the ISF did not back down. As a result of this warning, crossing into northern parts of Lebanon has been suspended until further notice.