NAHR AL BARED, Lebanon July 4th 2007 —  Three Islamist fighters were killed as the Lebanese army repulsed an attack inside a Palestinian camp in northern Lebanon, security sources said Wednesday.
A correspondent at the scene, meanwhile, reported renewed exchanges of gunfire between the army and Fatah Al Islam fighters around Nahr Al Bared refugee camp, amid bursts of shells fired by the military.
The sources said that the bodies of three militants were evacuated by civil defense workers after the attack on the army late Tuesday in Nahr Al Bared, the scene of a six-week standoff between troops and Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

"There was an infiltration attempt. The army fired back and the militants pulled back to positions deep inside the camp, as usual. They have no fixed posts," an army spokesman said, without confirming the casualties. Fatah Al Islam militants "tried to advance toward buildings near the fringes of the camp to fire at soldiers. The army opened up with artillery, forcing their retreat and silencing their snipers," he said.  Fatah Al Islam, which had spokesmen contactable by mobile phone in the early stages of the battle, was again unreachable Wednesday. Their phone lines have apparently been cut off.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned anew of the deteriorating humanitarian situation inside the camp. An ICRC spokeswoman, Virginia de la Guardia, said that relief workers had not been able to deliver food and water supplies to the camp since June 20, with trapped residents running out of supplies. "Discussions are continuing with the army" for access, she said.  The last food rations that entered the camp amounted to 760 kilograms (1,670 pounds), enough for just over 100 people for two weeks, said the delegate of the ICRC, which has been coordinating relief.

The army has been battling the Arab Islamists boxed inside the camp near the Mediterranean port city of Tripoli since May 20.

As aid workers continue to seek access to trapped civilians, Palestinian factions have struggled to agree on the mandate of a proposed force to end the deadly showdown in the besieged camp.

In the absence of reliable figures, hundreds of Nahr Al Bared’s original population of 31,000 are believed to remain inside the camp. The vast majority took advantage of lulls in the fighting to flee.

According to a count compiled from official figures and security sources, the battle has now claimed at least 173 lives, including 85 soldiers, in and around Nahr Al Bared. The toll does not include the corpses of fighters abandoned in the camp.