Libyan rebels say Gaddafi forces fight each other

Gunfight between security force units at Misrata: rebels; government spokesman says reports of mutiny are "rubbish."

March 13, 2011 19:40
2 minute read.
A rebel fires an anti-aircraft gun near Brega.

brega fighting in libya_311 reuters. (photo credit: Goran Tomasevic / Reuters)

DJERBA - An assault on Libya's rebel-held city of Misrata was stalled on Sunday by renewed fighting between members of Muammar Gaddafi's security forces, rebels said, but the government denied reports of a mutiny.

Residents said fighting broke out on Saturday after some units of the Libyan leader's force refused to attack Misrata, Libya's third-biggest city and the only place in the west of the country still openly defying Gaddafi's rule.

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The reports of a mutiny could not be verified because Libyan authorities have not allowed reporters access to the city of 300,000 which is 200 km (130 miles) east of the capital.

"From the early morning they (the security forces) are fighting among each other. We hear the fighting," Mohammed, one of the rebel fighters, told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.

"This division between them came to us from God. Just when we thought the end was coming, this happened. Now we are waiting to see what will happen."


Asked about reports of a mutiny in Misrata, government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said: "This is rubbish. It is not true."

"The army has surrounded the centre of Misrata. They are in the city. Tribal elders are talking to them (the rebels) to surrender," he said in Tripoli.

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Misrata residents said they could hear the sound of heavy fighting from a military airfield to the south of the town, where pro-Gaddafi forces have been based. They said there were no clashes between rebels and security forces on Sunday.

"They (Gaddafi's forces) are still fighting each other. The shelling hit a house and a shop in southern Misrata, I don't know whether there are any casualties," said rebel spokesman Gemal.

He said shops in the city were open as normal, but added: "Of course there is tension as everybody is waiting to see what will happen."

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