Lebanon announces capture of Fatah Islam spokesman

Three others in custody as Lebanese army continues to comb areas surrounding Nahr el-Bared refugee camp.

September 15, 2007 13:01
1 minute read.
Lebanon announces capture of Fatah Islam spokesman

lebanese camp 298.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Lebanese troops captured the spokesman for Fatah Islam and three others early Saturday, about two weeks after the army crushed the militant group in a northern Palestinian refugee camp, a military spokesman said. Since defeating the movement after a three-month long siege, Lebanese troops have been combing the areas surrounding the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp searching for any who may have escaped during the final desperate breakout attempt on Sept 2 in which more than 50 were killed and two dozen detained. Abu Salim Taha was captured in Jabal Terbol, outside the Nahr el-Bared and near the other Palestinian camp of Beddawi. A military spokesman, who requested anonymity until an official statement was issued, said the militant was a Palestinian-Syrian from the refugee camp of Yarmouk and three others were captured with him. A terse army statement later added that the other three were from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia and said "an investigation is under way." A security official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of intelligence information, said some of the escaped militants were attempting to move through the remote mountains of central Lebanon into the eastern Bekaa Valley to eventually seek refugee in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh. The government has said 222 militants were killed in the fighting and more than 200 arrested, while 167 Lebanese soldiers died. More arrests have been made in recent days as authorities, helped by locals, caught some escapees. But apart from killing Fatah Islam No. 2 leader Abu Hureira in a shootout with security forces in Tripoli near Nahr el-Bared more than a month ago after he mysteriously fled the army's siege of the camp, none of the senior Fatah Islam leaders are in custody. Taha was originally reported dead right after the breakout but DNA tests on the body displayed by the media subsequently proved negative. The fighting, which started May 20, became the worst internal violence since Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

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