Lebanese Police Start to Remove Camp Barricades
Advance units of the Lebanese paramilitary police began dismantling barricades in Beirut’s battered Palestinian camps Saturday. Meanwhile, sporadic exchanges of weapons fire resumed in central Beirut between Christian and Muslim militiamen.
A team of officers from the Internal Security Forces moved into the Borj el Brajne and Chatilla camps and cleared a number of barricades and sandbagged positions, a police spokesman said. However, the police conceded they had not removed any weapons used during the monthlong war for control of the camps.
Leaders of the principal Shia Muslim militia, Amal, and of other Palestinian factions opposed to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat had agreed Friday to remove “all evidence of battle and violence inside and around” the two camps and at a third Palestinian camp, Sabra, all three situated on the poor fringes of south Beirut.
The accord followed a Syrian-mediated cease-fire early last week. Under that agreement, the paramilitary police were to collect heavy and medium weapons and supervise withdrawal of gunmen.
In Amman, Jordan, on Saturday, a PLO statement said that agreement is, in fact, designed to give Syria control over the Palestinian camps, which are extended slum neighborhoods sheltering both refugees and fighters. The PLO also charged that Syrian officers are strengthening their positions around the camps.
Bulldozers were brought in Saturday to flatten sandbagged positions around camp entry points after a field meeting was held between representatives of Amal and the Palestinians, under Syrian supervision.
Another report from Jordan on Saturday said that King Hussein will attend an Arab summit conference in Morocco in early July to discuss what were termed Shia attacks on Palestinian camps.
In central Beirut, militias battled with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. One soldier was reported killed, police said, slain when his position along the Green Line separating the capital’s Christian and Muslim sectors was hit by machine-gun fire.