A Lebanese government spokesman says police have killed the second in command of the Fatah al-Islam terrorist group, which has been battling the Lebanese Army in a Palestinian refugee camp for more than two months. Edward Yeranian reports from Beirut.
News that Abu Hureira - the number-two man of the Fatah al-Islam Palestinian terrorist group - has been killed by government security forces brought some joy and relief to ordinary Lebanese, eager to see an end to the bloody two-month siege of the Nahr al Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
Lebanon Information Minister Ghazi Aridi says Abu Hureira was killed after he and a companion, riding a motorcycle, opened fire on a government checkpoint in Tripoli and officers returned fire.
The shootout is said to have taken place several days ago. DNA testing to confirm Hureira's identity was completed late Monday.
Dina, a young Lebanese woman, expressed her pleasure at hearing the news.
"We are very happy that the Lebanese Army killed Abu Hureira, and we are very proud of our Lebanese Army and our government," she said.
The Lebanese Army's battle to recapture the besieged Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp has been bitter and bloody. Scores of Lebanese soldiers and many Palestinian civilians have been killed.
The Fatah al-Islam group, which is now under siege in one remaining corner of the camp, has repeatedly fired Katyusha rockets on surrounding Lebanese villages, causing casualties. Popular anger has been rising against the group.
Danny, a Lebanese journalist, says that Abu Hureira's killing was a major accomplishment, because he was a sought-after terrorist.
" I'm happy so much, believe me I'm happy because Abu Hureira is killed," he said. "I'm sure I'm happy, because [he was] a big man of terrorism in Lebanon, not only in Lebanon, in the world."
The Lebanese Army has repeatedly said it is closing in on the remaining handful of Fatah al Islam guerillas, but artillery duels continue and there is no sign of any quick end to the fighting.
A number of Beirut newspapers have accused the Syrian secret police of arming the Fatah al Islam group, which broke away from another pro-Syrian Palestinian splinter group, Fatah al-Intifadah, several years ago.