NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon (AFP) – Lebanese soldiers on Wednesday continued to hunt down fugitive fighters after crushing their Islamist militia in fierce gunbattles that ended a 15-week standoff, military sources said.
Troops were scouring the devastated Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon for explosives and any surviving members of the Sunni extremist group Fatah al-Islam.
Sporadic gunshots could be heard inside the bombed-out camp as troops tried to smoke out remaining militants, also combing valleys and hills around neighbouring villages for fugitives.
Several explosions were also heard during the night and early Wednesday as troops blew up buildings and underground shelters booby-trapped by the Islamist militiamen.
Nahr al-Bared fell to a final massive army assault on Sunday after 15 weeks of battle in a move widely seen as a victory for the army that could also help to ease tensions in the politically divided country.
On Tuesday, thousands of people lined up the coastal highway in northern Lebanon to hail troops withdrawing from Nahr al-Bared where the army said it had killed at least 222 extremists since the violence erupted on May 20.