SIRTE - Snipers loyal to Muammar Gaddafi held back government forces trying to capture his hometown on Thursday and the deposed leader warned the heads of the developing world who have recognized Libya's new rulers that they would face a similar fate to his own.
Hiding in a mosque and a building that was once Gaddafi's favorite venue for international summits, loyalists blocked the advance of government forces, making forecasts of a quick end to the battle for Sirte look premature.
Thousands of civilians in the town of Sirte were caught up in the fighting. Red Cross workers who were able to reach the town's hospital described patients sheltering from the gunfire in the corridors and a lack of staff to treat them.
Taking Sirte is of huge symbolic importance to Libya's new rulers, and until it is captured they are putting on hold plans to start rebuilding the oil-producing North African state.