Libyans flee Sirte as fighters ready big guns

September 19, 2011 15:21


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SIRTE, Libya - Hundreds of families fled Muammar Gaddafi's birthplace of Sirte on Monday as fighters sent by Libya's new rulers to capture the city rolled up with huge rocket launchers and artillery guns.

 Residents escaping said hundreds were still trapped in Sirte. They spoke as pro-NTC fighters fired test shots to alert pro-Gaddafi forces holed up inside the city of their presence.

"There's no electricity, no phone coverage. Nothing," resident Ibrahim Ramadan said, standing by a car packed with his family as he fled on the fifth day of fighting. "There's just some water really, but nothing else apart from that," he said as interim government forces handed out juice to civilians at a checkpoint and rifled through their belongings to check for weapons.

Ramadan, who acts as a community leader, estimated that around one third of Sirte's roughly 70,000 residents had left.

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