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Fatah al-Islam Claims Responsibility for Blasts in Beirut
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Fatah al-Islam, the militant group which has been fighting against government troops for three days in northern Lebanon, on Tuesday claimed responsibility for two bombs that rocked Beirut in the past two days and warned of more attacks in the capital.

"As the fighting rages against the Lebanese army in the area of the camp of Nahr al-Bared, a group of heroic mujahideen has planted and blown up two explosive charges in the heart of Beirut," the group said in a statement sent to press.

"We have warned the Lebanese army and we have now fulfilled our promise," the statement said, adding "we will not hesitate to cutoff their hands and even their heads."

On Monday, Fatah al-Islam threatened to expand its attacks if the government troops continue shelling the Palestinian camp where they are based. Its spokesman Abu Salim said "if this continues, we will carry the battle outside Tripoli."

The previously little-known group has been engaged in clashes with the Lebanese army since early Sunday in and around the Nahral-Bared refugee camp near the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. At least 79 people have been killed in the fighting in the worst internal violence that Lebanon has seen since that country's 1975-1990 civil war.

Ten people were wounded in Monday night's blast in Beirut's mainly Muslim western sector of Verdun, while a woman was killed and 12 others wounded in a similar blast on Sunday in a Christian neighborhood of the city.

Local Ya Libnan daily reported Tuesday on its website, quoting a Lebanese security source as saying, that authorities managed to foil an attempt to plant another bomb in a Christian neighborhood northeast of Beirut called Mansouriyeh on late Monday.

Later on Tuesday, the Fatah al-Islam group declared that it would suspend battling with the Lebanese troops as of 14:30 PM (11:30 GMT) of the day, the unilateral ceasefire was announced as the fighting between the militant group and Lebanese army entered the third straight day.

Earlier in the day, Lebanese government ordered the army to "finish off" the Fatah al-Islam, showing the great determination of the government in crackdown on the militant group rooted in the refugee camp.

Shortly after the order, the army intensified shelling on the buildings used by members of the Fatah al-Islam group as hideouts and fortress.

(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2007)

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