HERAWA - Libyan fighters closing in on Muammar Gaddafi's birthplace from the east, captured a nearby town on Saturday only to have their advance stopped by resistance from loyalist forces. Fighters backing Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) seized Herawa, a small town 60 km from the ousted leader's coastal hometown of Sirte.
They danced in the streets singing "Gaddafi, we will burn you" and ripped down posters of the fugitive former leader, stamping on his face in the dirt.
But difficulties came as troops started setting up base in a mosque on the edge of the town. Pro-Gaddafi forces in Sirte fired rockets at the domed white building and heavy shelling scattered the fighters.
Ambulances sped between the front line and field hospital where doctors said a pro-NTC soldier had died and around 10 were being treated for gunshot and shrapnel wounds. The fighters scrapped a plan to advance further into Sirte, to reinforce other interim government forces who had entered the city from the opposite direction. Pro-Gaddafi fighters continued to shower the outskirts of Herawa with rockets and shell fire.
Sirte is one of the last pro-Gaddafi bastions in Libya along with the desert town of Bani Walid and the remote southern outpost of Sabha.