Cairo: The Arabic news channel Al Jazeera has quoted witnesses to report that pro-Gaddafi forces were blowing up arms caches, in order to prevent anti-government forces from acquiring those weapons.
Clashes were also reported in the city of Misurata, located 200km east of Tripoli, where witnesses said a pro-Gaddafi army brigade attacked the city’s airport with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
They told Al Jazeera that pro-democracy protesters had managed to fight off that attack. “Revolutionaries have driven out the security forces,” they said, adding that “heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns” had been used against them.
Mohamed Senussi, a resident of Misurata, said calm had returned to the city after the “fierce battle” near the airport.
“The people’s spirits here are high, they are celebrating and chanting ‘God is Greatest’,” he told the Reuters news agency by telephone.
Another witness warned, however, that protesters in Misurata felt “isolated” as they were surrounded by nearby towns still in Gaddafi’s control.
Protesters and air force personnel who have renounced Gaddafi’s leadership also overwhelmed a nearby military base where Gaddafi loyalists were taking refuge, according to a medical official at the base.
They disabled air force fighter jets at the base so that they could not be used against protesters.
Soldiers helped anti-Gaddafi protesters take the oil terminal in the town of Berga, according to Reuters.
The oil refinery in Ras Lanuf has also halted its operations and most staff has left, according to a source in the company.
Support for Gaddafi within the country’s elite continues to decline. On Friday, Abdel Rahman Al Abar, Libya’s Chief Prosecutor, became one of the latest top officials to resign in protest over the bloodshed.
“What happened and is happening are massacres and bloodshed never witnessed by the Libyan people. The logic of power and violence is being imposed instead of seeking democratic, free, and mutual dialogue,” he said.
His comments came as UN’s highest human-rights body held a special session on Friday to discuss what it’s chief had earlier described as possible “crimes against humanity” by the Gaddafi government.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, urged world leaders to “step in vigorously” to end the violent crackdown.
The UN Security Council was to hold a meeting on the situation in Libya later in the day, with sanctions the possible imposition of a no-fly zone over the country under Chapter VII of the UN charter on the table.