Gaddafi forces attack Misrata, 2 dead

2011-04-06 10:07

Tunis - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shelled the besieged city of Misrata for much of Tuesday and two people were killed in the attacks, rebels said.

Like many cities, Misrata rejected Gaddafi's rule in a revolt in February. In a violent crackdown, Gaddafi's forces restored control in most places in western Libya, leaving Misrata cut off and surrounded, with dwindling supplies.

"Misrata was shelled with tank fire, artillery and mortars, mainly [around] Tripoli street and the port area. The shelling started around 10:00 and stopped at 17:00 in the afternoon," the rebel, called Abdelsalam, said by phone.

"The situation gets worse every day. Unfortunately Nato's operations have not been effective in Misrata. Civilians are dying every day," he said.

Another rebel, called Nasser, later said two people were killed and 26 injured in the shelling.

"Two people were killed and 26 others were injured in mortar attacks on Misrata today," he told Reuters by phone.

"I was at the hospital and saw the dead and some of those injured," he added, saying a doctor at the hospital had also confirmed the numbers to him.

Libyan officials deny attacking civilians in Misrata, saying they are fighting armed gangs linked to al Qaeda. Accounts from Misrata cannot be independently verified as Libyan authorities are not allowing journalists to report freely from there.

Western powers have destroyed nearly a third of Gaddafi's military since launching air strikes last month but Nato said it was forced to change bombing tactics because of human shields.

Misrata is now the priority for Nato air strikes.

"They [Nato] need to find a way to take out the snipers and armed gangs in small civilian cars," Abdelsalam said.

"Nato says Gaddafi's forces are hiding among civilians. But we tell them that there are no civilians left in the areas where the Gaddafi forces are positioned. We urge them to destroy civilian property to take out the snipers and armed gangs."