Gaddafi forces bombard Misrata

2011-04-16 14:45

Benghazi - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fired at least 100 Grad rockets into Misrata on Saturday, a rebel spokesperson said, in a third day of heavy bombardment of the rebel-held city.

Misrata is the rebels' only major bastion in the western part of Libya. Pro-Gaddafi forces have laid siege to it for seven weeks after cities across the coast rose up against the Libyan leader's four-decade rule in mid-February.

"They fired Grads at an industrial area this morning, at least 100 rockets were fired. No casualties are reported," Abdelbasset Abu Mzereiq told Reuters by telephone.

In the east, rebel military leader, Abdel Fattah Younes, said his forces were engaged in fierce fighting in Brega, west of Benghazi, and said he hoped he would have "good news" soon.

"We have people who are positioned at the entrance to Brega, they have cleared out some snipers. We've basically cleared out Gaddaffi's forces from the eastern outskirts," rebel commander Jibril Mohammed Jibril said on Saturday on the fringes of Ajdabiyah, the nearest town to Brega still under rebel control.

A rebel at the entrance to Ajdabiyah said rebels were still being ambushed by government forces along the main highway linking the two towns. Artillery fire was heard coming from the direction of Brega, but it was unclear who was firing, he said.

More than 100 rockets landed in Misrata on Friday as well, and rebels said government forces had reached the city centre.

Cluster bombs

Human Rights Watch said it had evidence Gaddafi's forces were firing cluster bombs into residential areas of Misrata. It published photographs of what it said were Spanish-produced cluster bombs, which release grenades designed to explode into fragments and kill the maximum number of people.

Rebel spokesperson Abdelsalam in Misrata said pro-Gaddafi forces had on Friday also shelled the road leading to the port, a lifeline for trapped civilians and the main entry point for international aid agencies, killing eight people.

"Today was very tough ... Gaddafi's forces entered Tripoli Street and Nakl al Theqeel road," he said by phone, referring to a main Misrata thoroughfare.

"Witnesses said they saw pro-Gaddafi soldiers on foot in the city centre today. Except for snipers, they usually stay in their tanks and armoured vehicles," the spokesperson said.

A government reconnaissance helicopter had flown over the city, he said, despite a no-fly zone mandated by the UN Security Council and enforced by Nato warplanes.


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