Libyan rebels with anti-aircraft gun 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Andrew Winning)
ALGIERS - Muammar Gaddafi's forces killed 18
civilians in the city of Misrata on Tuesday and Libyan government troops
fired tank shells and fought skirmishes with rebels on Wednesday, a
rebel spokesman said.
But a blockade of Misrata's Mediterranean port by pro-Gaddafi forces
ended, allowing two ships to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate
people wounded in the fighting, the spokesman told Reuters by telephone.
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Misrata, Libya's third-largest city, is the only big rebel stronghold
left in the west of the country. Residents say it has been under siege
for weeks by pro-Gaddafi forces and that dozens of people have been
"Yesterday was a difficult day. Eighteen civilians were killed," said
the spokesman, called Mohammed. Rebels previously said nine civilians
had been killed in fighting on Tuesday.
"There are skirmishes today. Tanks bombard the city every now and then,"
said Mohammed. "Snipers are still positioned in Tripoli Street (in the center of Misrata)."
But he said the main body of the pro-Gaddafi forces had not been able to
enter the city center. "They are encircling it," Mohammed said.
Reports from Misrata, which is 200 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, could
not be verified independently because Libyan officials have prevented
journalists from reporting freely from the city.
Later on Wednesday, Libyan state television broadcast what it said were
live images from Misrata showing a small pro-Gaddafi crowd of men
chanting and waving flags.
Rebels pick up fight in Brega
Libyan rebels are fighting Muammar Gaddafi's forces in the town of Brega, a rebel spokesman said on Wednesday, repeating a call for foreign powers to support anti-Gaddafi forces with arms supplies and air strikes.
Ahmad Bani, a rebel military spokesman in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, said rebels pulled back after a recent string of gains in the face of Gaddafi's better-equipped army.
"Fighting is now under way at Brega and Ajdabiyah will be a new defence point," Bani said. "We are seeking weapons that will be able to destroy the heavy weapons they are using against us such as tanks and artillery."
Bani said civilians were under threat and that Western warplanes enforcing a U.N. resolution aimed at defending civilians should therefore "take out" Gaddafi's forces.Misrata port opens for aid
The rebel spokesman said shortages of food and medical supplies had been
eased after aid ships docked at the Mistrata port, which, residents said, had
until this week been blockaded by the pro-Gaddafi navy and coastguard
The US Navy's Sixth Fleet said on Tuesday it had attacked three Libyan
ships near Misrata to stop them firing at merchant ships at the port.
"The port is totally open now. It is ready to receive any aid," the
rebel spokesman said. "One ship from Tunisia and another from Malta came
in yesterday with food. The Tunisian ship took about 100 wounded people
John Drake, senior risk consultant with UK-based security firm AKE,
citing sources in Misrata, said vessels could enter the port there but
it was hazardous because of the fighting.
"An aid vessel arrived at the harbor at around 1200 local time today with medical provisions on board," he said.
"The main violence is located in the town, whereas the harbor is a
little to the east, although it was subjected to artillery fire a few