The Lebanese army pounded a refugee camp with artillery fire on Thursday, but it was uncertain if they were preparing for a final assault on Islamic militants barricaded inside.
The shelling began just before dawn and just hours after more than 150 civilians fled on foot from the camp in northern Lebanon as soldiers ringing the neighborhood moved up tanks and armored vehicles.
From five to 10 shells were slamming into the camp every minute. Thick black smoke billowed from deep inside the seaside camp and covered a large area above it. Heavy machine gun fire could be heard and an armored personnel carrier could be seen ferrying at least two wounded soldiers out of the camp.
The violence came on the anniversary of the start of Israel's war with Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon last summer. In an address to mark the occasion, Prime Minister Fuad Saniora late Wednesday called for "putting a final end" to the standoff at Nahr el-Bared.