BEIRUT (AFP) – The deputy commander of an Islamist militant group battling the army in an 11-week standoff in a refugee camp in Lebanon was killed last week, the government said.
Interior Minister Hassan Sabeh told a cabinet meeting late Monday that Abu Hureira, deputy commander of Fatah al-Islam, was killed after firing at security forces at a checkpoint in the northern port city of Tripoli.
Sabeh said Hureira, who is Lebanese, was riding on a motorcycle with another man when they were stopped at a checkpoint and began firing. Hureira, who was carrying fake identification, was killed and the other man injured.
There have been several unconfirmed reports in recent weeks of Hureira being killed in fighting at Nahr al-Bared camp, north of Tripoli, where the army has been engaged in fierce battles since May 20 with the Al-Qaeda-inspired militia.
Hureira’s sister Sabah told AFP that she had identified his body on Monday at the request of the government.
“It was his corpse, I am sure of it,” she said.
More than 200 people, including 133 soldiers, have been killed in the standoff between the army and Fatah al-Islam militants, the worst internal violence since the end of the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.
Most of the camp’s 31,000 residents have fled since the battles began, but about 60 women and children related to Fatah al-Islam fighters remain inside Nahr al-Bared.