FORCES loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have launched a counterattack on two eastern towns, clashing with opposition forces in Brega and bombing rebel-held Ajdabiya, witnesses say.
Residents in Brega, 200km southwest of the main eastern city of Benghazi, said by telephone that Gaddafi’s men stormed the town with tanks and heavy artillery and that violent fighting had erupted at the port.
Libyan warplanes also launched airstrikes on Ajdabiya, 40km from Brega, targeting either an arms dump or a military base taken over by opposition forces, they said.
“Gaddafi’s militias are in Brega and the people are resisting them,” Abdel Hafiz Ghoqa, a spokesman for the revolutionaries in Benghazi, told AFP by phone.
“We hope that matters will be settled in the coming hours. There are attempts also by these militias to make inroads into Ajdabiya (town further east).”
Libyan rebels in Berga claimed Gaddafi’s forces had been repulsed.
The rebels pushed out the pro-Gaddafi forces out of Brega and were back in control, according to several of their leaders in the rebel-held town of Ajdabiya, 40km away.
“Brega is now under the full control of the revolution,” a police general in Ajdabiya said on condition of anonymity.
“People have gone from Ajdabiya to help,” he said.
Mehdi Suleiman Hussein, a fighter from Ajdabiya, told AFP that “Gaddafi’s forces arrived in Brega and fought, but now they are pulling back,” adding however that some “mercenaries” were still battling the rebels.
Earlier, a resident of Brega, 200km west of the main eastern city of Benghazi, said by telephone that Gaddafi’s forces had entered the town and violent fighting was taking place at the port.
A doctor in Ajdabiya, Ayman al-Moghrabi, told AFP the attack began under cover of darkness.
“During the night Gaddafi’s forces attacked the airport at Brega where they clashed with the rebels,” said the doctor.Agencies