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Middle east

Two Islamist militants killed in clashes with army forces

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-14

Lebanese troops killed two Islamist rebels on Saturday, including a leading figure in Fatah al-Islam, an al Qaeda-inspired group that fought the Lebanese army in 2007.

AFP - Lebanese troops on Saturday killed two Islamist militants including a head of an Al-Qaeda-inspired group which fought a battle with the army in 2007 that cost hundreds of lives, a military spokesman said.
   
"Abdel Rahman Awad, one of the key leaders of Fatah al-Islam," was killed along with another militant known as Abu Bakr during clashes in the eastern Bekaa Valley region, the spokesman told AFP.
   
A judicial source said Abu Bakr was Awad's key deputy who provided military training to members of Fatah al-Islam, a shadowy group said to be inspired by Al-Qaeda.
   
In 2007, Fatah al-Islam fought a fierce battle against the army at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon that raged for more than three months and cost 400 lives, with 168 soldiers among the dead.
   
Judicial authorities accuse Awad of having "incited" militants to carry out attacks two years ago in the port city of Tripoli, near the Palestinian camp, that killed 21 people, including 13 soldiers.
   
Those found guilty of incitement to carry out deadly attacks can face the death penalty under Lebanese law.
   
Awad, one of the most wanted Islamists in Lebanon, opened fire at troops along with his comrade and the soldiers responded killing the pair, the spokesman said.
   
The clash broke out in the Bekaa Valley town of Chtaura and both men were travelling on false identities, the army said.
   
Earlier, the spokesman said the army had been pursuing the pair since they emerged from another Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh in south Lebanon, but he did not give a timing.
   
Several extremist groups are suspected of having taken refuge in the north and east of the country, and in the 12 Palestinian camps scattered across Lebanon of which Ain el-Hilweh is the largest.
   
Awad had been sheltering in Ain el-Hilweh for more than a year, according to the army, and is considered by some as the head of Fatah al-Islam.
   
Authorities also charge that the wanted Islamist was monitoring the movements of Lebanese army troops as well as of UN peacekeepers stationed in south Lebanon.
   
Lebanese authorities suspected Awad of being to be the leader or "emir" (prince) of the shadowy Fatah al-Islam group.
   
Members of the group arrested in Syria said in testimony aired on Syrian state television two years ago that Awad took over the mantle from the group's former leader Shaker Abssi, whose whereabouts remain a mystery.
   
Abssi -- who appears to have fled Lebanon -- and a third member of the group, Lebanese citizen Abdel Ghani Jawhar, also figure among the top wanted Islamists.
   
Fatah al-Islam has been linked to deadly attacks that targeted top army and police officers in December 2007 and January 2008 respectively, as well as three UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon in June 2007.
   
In August 2007, the US State Department designated Fatah al-Islam, which denies formal links with al-Qaeda, as a "terrorist" group.
   

 

Date created : 2010-08-14

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