Thousands of civilians flee besieged Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon

TRIPOLI, Lebanon &

Thousands of people fled a crowded refugee camp Tuesday night during a lull in three straight days of clashes between Lebanese troops and Islamic militants holed up inside, Associated Press reporters at the scene said.

AP Television News video from the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp showed women clutching children and piling up in pickup trucks, some waving white flags, as they tried to leave the partially destroyed camp.

Others fled on foot, and ambulances could be seen evacuating the wounded.

U.N. relief officials in another camp located a few miles to the south of Tripoli said they expected 10,000 Palestinian refugees from Nahr el-Bared to arrive through the night.

Refugees from Nahr el-Bared were seen raising white towels from windows and even waving white plastic bags. Boys carried babies, a young boy and a woman helped an elderly woman, hurriedly walking on the side of the road as cars sped past carrying more refugees.

Many of the packed cars driving out had their windows blasted from the fighting.

Earlier, a U.N. convoy carrying relief supplies during the fighting between the Lebanese troops and the Fatah Islam fighters.

The Lebanese army initially stopped the convoy of six trucks from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which aids Palestinians, from entering the camp. The convoy was later allowed in during a brief cease-fire.

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