After four Lebanese soldiers were killed on Sunday in the town of Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon, Lebanese troops resumed their shelling of Islamist terrorists who have been holed up there for more than two months. Lebanese artillery fired a shell every three minutes on the positions of the Fatah al-Islam terrorists, who responded with machine gun fire.

A Lebanese Army spokesman said the clashes intensified after a morning lull: "The army is responding to the source of fire from inside the camp and continues to remove booby-traps left behind by Fatah al-Islam in destroyed buildings," he said.

The four soldiers killed on Sunday brought the total death toll of Lebanese soldiers to 116 or 117, depending on the source. According to Reuters news agency, 15 other soldiers were wounded. The state-run National News Agency said 13 Fatah al-Islam men were killed.

An Army spokesperson contacted by the Beirut Daily Star explained how things work at Nahr el-Bared: "They don't have a speakerphone or any tools to respond to us as the media reported. We called on them to surrender and to allow their families to evacuate, but they continued their attacks and we took that as a rejection of the calls," said the army source.

Nahr el-Bared, which had 40,000 residents ten weeks ago, now has less than 1,000, possibly less than 100. The rest have either fled or died. The total number of civilians killed is not known, but the reports that have come from Nahr el-Bared over the past few weeks do not bode well. "The total death toll from the battle that has been raging since May 20 has exceeded 200," says one report, and explains that it is quoting "estimates not taking into account t

"The army is not letting anyone in here so no one can see the massacres they have committed"

he bodies of Islamists remaining inside Nahr al-Bared camp."

"The army is not letting anyone in here," said an Arab from inside Nahr el-Bared who was quoted in an earlier report by IRIN News, a UN-sponsored news agency, "so no one can see the massacres they have committed."

Despite all this, the international community and world media appear relatively unconcerned by what may well turn out to be a massacre of civilians at Nahr el-Bared, and by the "ethnic cleansing" which has turned it into a ghost town. Video aired on Al Jazeera TV, however, shows scenes that would have elicited great furor, had they occured in a town that was under Israeli attack.

While the Lebanese Red Cross launched a campaign calling on citizens to donate blood for the soldiers wounded in the conflict, the residents of Nahr el-Bared have not had access to medical clinics since the early stages of the fighting, and the International Red Cross has been unable to deliver any food, water or medicine into the town since June 22nd, reportedly because "the army is refusing to grant safe passage."

"Not allowing the supplies through is a mass punishment for all the civilians inside here," a resident of the camp was quoted as saying. "If there is not an immediate ceasefire we are afraid the army will destroy the camp and we will all die in here."