Middle East

Lebanon 'kills Fatah al-Islam militant leader'

Abd-al-Rahman Awad at a demonstration in February 2006 in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon.
Image caption Abd-al-Rahman Awad was convicted for a number of bomb attacks in recent years

Lebanese security officials say they have shot and killed the suspected leader of the militant Sunni Islamist movement Fatah al-Islam.

Abd-al-Rahman Awad and an associate were intercepted on a main road in eastern Lebanon and died in an exchange of fire with security forces.

Fatah al-Islam fought a three-month battle with the Lebanese army in 2007 in which about 400 people were killed.

The group is believed to be linked to the al-Qaeda terror group.

Abd-al-Rahman Awad was already high on the Lebanese wanted list.

He had been condemned to death in absentia on charges relating to a number of bomb attacks and killings over the past three years.

He was believed to have taken over the leadership of Fatah al-Islam after its long battle with the army at the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli in northern Lebanon in 2007.

According to Lebanese security officials, he had recently been hiding in the big Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh near Sidon in the south.

He was travelling with two companions on the main road to Syria when he was ambushed by security forces in the town of Chtaura in east Lebanon.

Mr Awad and one of his associates named Abu Bakr Abdullah were killed in a hail of gunfire. The third man escaped.

Fatah al-Islam shares a similar ideology to al-Qaeda though it denies being linked to the organisation.

It has been blamed for a series of attacks on Lebanese police and army personnel and on United Nations forces in southern Lebanon.

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