Saturday, 5 March 2011

Fighting rages in Libya's east

A Libyan rebel fighter wraps himself in heavy machine gun ammo before heading to battle against pro Gaddafi
forces, some 40km down the road of the northern central city of Ras Lanuf [AFP]

At least 30 civilians have been killed after security forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, attempted to retake the rebel-held town of Az Zawiyah, near the capital Tripoli, that has for days been defying his rule, witnesses have said.

The rebellion in Az Zawiyah - the closest rebel-held territory to the capital and also the site of an oil refinery - has been an embarassment to the Libyan authorities who are trying to show they control at least the west of the country.

Eastern regions of the country, around the city of Benghazi, have already fallen out of Gaddafi's control after a popular revolt against his four decades of rule.
On Friday evening, at least 12 people were killed and another 10 injured after explosions took place at an ammunition dump near Benghazi. There were conflicting reports regarding the cause of the blast.
Hospital sources said it was triggered when people went into the storage facility to collect weapons, while others blamed pro-Gaddafi forces.
"The two explosions took place at 6:30 pm (1630 GMT). The casualties started to arrive at hospital an hour later," said Idriss Ghazali, a doctor at the Houari hospital.
Anwar Mahmud al-Tajuri, a witness, told the AFP news agency that a fire had broken out in one warehouse, which spread to the second in about five minutes.
"After the first explosion, we left. When the firefighters arrived, they were caught in the second blast."
'30 dead' in Az Zawiyah

In Az Zawiyah, Mohamed, a resident of the town, told the Reuters news agency that "dozens were killed" and more wounded in violence there.
"We have counted 30 dead civilians. The hospital was full. They could not find space for the casualties."

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