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Gaddafi’s forces fight to regain rebel-held cities

Posted by on March 4, 2011 0 Comment

Tripoli/Cairo, March 4 (DPA) Security forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Friday attempted to gain control of the northwestern city of al-Zawiyah, close to capital Tripoli, which has been a rebel stronghold.

There were several deaths reported in the clashes in al-Zawiyah, about 50 km west of Tripoli. Broadcaster Al Arabiya reported 13 people were killed. According to Al Jazeera, there were 50 dead and 300 wounded.

Meanwhile, international police organisation Interpol issued a global alert against Gaddafi and 15 members of his inner circle, including seven of his sons and his daughter Aisha.

The Libyan opposition said they had gained control over the oil-rich city of Ras Lanuf, which was believed to be the last oil terminal in northeastern Libya to be under Gaddafi’s control.

A witness told DPA that there were airstrikes against rebels earlier Friday around the coastal city of al-Burayqa, as Gaddafi was trying to regain control of several cities close to Benghazi where the opposition has formed a national council that aims to give a political face to the uprising.

In Tripoli, about 500 anti-government protesters clashed with Gaddafi loyalists after Friday prayers. Security vehicles surrounded the Al-Jazair mosque in the centre of the city where several protesters were praying, a resident in Tripoli told DPA.

After the clashes started, authorities prevented foreign media in Tripoli from leaving the main hotel where they are based.

Security brigades and tanks also surrounded the Souq al-Jomaa district near Tripoli’s main Green Square, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the area.

Gaddafi’s brutal crackdown on protesters has led to international condemnation and sanctions on his regime.

Friday’s Interpol alert, known as an orange notice, calls on the 188 member countries to help enforce UN sanctions against Libya and assist an International Criminal Court investigation into allegations that Gaddafi’s regime committed crimes against humanity.

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy has called for an emergency summit March 11 to debate ways to “overcome” the conflict in Libya and to support democratic change.

The UN Security Council and EU have voted to impose sanctions on Libya. While the UN demanded a targeted visa ban, asset freeze and arms embargo, the EU decided to impose a ban on the sale of non-lethal goods that could be used in the crackdown.

The death toll in the uprising, which started Feb 15, is estimated at more than 1,000.

Besides using force to retain his grip on the country, Gaddafi also reportedly tried to bribe Libyans to support him.

Opposition website Libya al-Youm reported that residents of the western city of Nalut had rejected an offer of 250,000 Libyan dinars (about $205,000) for each family that agreed to support Gaddafi.

Other reports said negotiators were sent to Misurata, a rebel-held city in the east, to offer families 200,000 dinar to make peace with Gaddafi.


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