Rebels defeat Gaddafi attacks in Misrata

2011-04-12 21:03

Beirut - Libyan government artillery bombarded the besieged city of Misrata on Tuesday and rebels said they had beaten back two separate attacks by troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

Misrata rose up in revolt against Gaddafi's four-decade rule along with other cities in mid-February and is the lone rebel stronghold in the west of the country.

"There was heavy fighting in Tripoli Street and the rebels held their positions. Also, very intense fighting occurred on the eastern side of Misrata on the Nak el Theqeel road. The rebels repelled the attack," a rebel spokesperson who identified himself as Mohamad Abu Shaara told Reuters by telephone.

Tripoli Road is a main thoroughfare that cuts through to the city centre from the western outskirts while the Nak el Theqeel road leads to Misrata's rebel-controlled port.

Shaara said there were casualties but gave no further details.

Libyan officials say they are fighting armed militia groups linked to al-Qaeda who are bent on destabilising the north African country.

It is difficult to verify reports from Misrata because journalists are prevented from reporting freely there.