Lebanese Government Investigating Allegations of Army Abuses at Nahr al-Bared

Lebanese Government Investigating Allegations of Army Abuses at Nahr al-Bared

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a staunch U.S. ally, has confirmed that a Lebanese military investigation is underway following allegations that Palestinians living in the country's Nahr al-Bared refugee camp were beaten by Lebanese soldiers, and their homes looted and torched, in the aftermath of last summer's battle between Islamist militants in the camp and the Lebanese army.

Lebanese troops burned some homes to rid them of poison left behind by defeated militants at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, Siniora wrote in a yet-unreleased letter to Amnesty International in December. It was the first response the rights group has received from Siniora's government after repeated calls for investigations into alleged army abuses. In an Oct. 31 press release, the group outlined reports it received of widespread looting and burning of Palestinian homes that allegedly occurred after fighting ended and the army took control of the camp in September.

Siniora did not specifically respond to several of the allegations leveled at the army, but in his letter to Amnesty International he writes that the militants operating in the camp were captured with large sums of money, "indicating they had been involved in looting," according to Amnesty's Neil Sammonds. But Sammonds said Siniora did not explain how the militants would have managed to move heavy appliances like refrigerators and washing machines from the camp during the army's three-month siege. "We are pleased to have such a fairly prompt response," said Sammonds, but "clearly there are some outstanding issues."

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