Tripoli residents ask for weapons

2011-08-22 11:10

Tripoli - Tripoli residents awoke with jubilation and fear on Monday, asking for weapons to join rebels in their cat-and-mouse war with loyalists who have besieged the city with snipers and drive-by shootings.

The capital's battle-scarred streets were all but empty as the sun rose on the long-dreamt of new Libya early on Monday, the day after rebels made a lightning advance on the capital to get rid of defiant leader Muammar Gaddafi.

But rebel checkpoints were sparse, indicating they had not yet taken complete control of the city, as they awaited the arrival of thousands more freedom fighters from already liberated parts of the country.

The drab city's concrete walls have been daubed with anti-Gaddafi and pro-revolutionary graffiti, demanding freedom for Libya and an end to the leader most people here consider insane.

There was confusion over whether it was best to travel quickly on the main thoroughfares, exposed to snipers in tall buildings, or slowly through the warren of tiny streets, without knowing what awaits around the next corner.

Civilians are exhausted after staying up most of the night, enjoying the food, drink and cigarettes that they must resist during the Ramadan days, despite the burning heat.

People in the south-western Gorji neighbourhood, near where Gaddafi’s son Mohamed lives and was detained by rebels on Sunday, said they had welcomed the freedom fighters when they arrived.

"The rebels from the mountains and from Zawiyah are now in Martyrs' Square [formerly Green Square] and the surrounding streets," said Gorji resident Saad Zaidi, who has just returned from celebrations in the centre of town.

Tense and jumpy

"But there are African snipers from Chad in the Old City, and sometimes you can hear mortars falling. But we don't know where they're being fired from."

Gorji residents like Abdel Rahman Bin Jama, whose neighbourhood sheltered and treated a team of AFP journalists that came under sniper attack, want nothing else than to join the fight.

"I don't have a weapon but we protect the neighbourhood because it's ours. We don't have enough weapons, but we all want weapons to get rid of the dictator. Everyone here is a fighter," said Bin Jama.

"Even the women give us emotional support and they are so happy about what is going on now. You won't find anyone here who supports Kadhafi."

Residents, both armed and unarmed, are tense and jumpy about today's uncertain situation yet happy about what they see as Gaddafi inevitable exit. They just need to get through the bloody transition.

"Gorji was the first neighbourhood that made anti-Gaddafi demonstrations, we've had 100 people arrested since the start of the revolution, but we haven't had any news from them yet," said Gorji resident Abubakr Wnees.

"State television said they would attack this area if we don't give up. Gaddafi told a local sheikh [Muslim preacher] to tell people to fight in his name, but he refused and so they arrested him."

Residents say that they know which neighbours support Gaddafi, but they are not seeking retribution.

"We know exactly who is with us and who is with Gaddafi, they are very few. We've just told them to stay at home."

  • tshepo.theman - 2011-08-22 11:29

    I love these revolution stories.... reminds me of our battle still waging on in SA.... Viva to the rebels... well done on eliminating that gadafi rubbish.... i am sure gadaffi will be dead by tomorrow morning... viva amandla to the revolution!!!

      BOFFINBOB - 2011-08-22 11:41

      Revelution....Lol...surely you mean revelootin !

  • BOFFINBOB - 2011-08-22 11:32

    Now why didnt all the " brave oppressed warriors of SA " try this against the Minority back in the 80s ? After all, under " democracy " it appears shooting & killing is a past time, so loved by many of our brave warriors !

      BOFFINBOB - 2011-08-22 11:33

      LOL....The reveloution here has turned to revelootin !

  • YES - 2011-08-22 11:51

    Another propaganda posted by the West. We know people in Tripoli are anti America - they see America as a cause to their woes and distruction of their country. It's therefore another hogwash by America and the West to tell us that people of Tripoli are nowq different from what they have always been known to be.

      Ingwe - 2011-08-22 12:20

      Yes speak for yourself 'WE' do not know anything of the sort it appears to me the many of the people in Tripoli are anti Gaddafi

  • john - 2011-08-22 11:52

    It'll be interesting to see what sort of govt/leader they come up with after Gaddafi. As pessimistic as it may be, I don't think his successor will be any better. Africa does tend to work in cycles of corruption and dictatorship. It'll probably take the new guy six months to set himself up as the new little tinpot dictator on the block and start throwing his weight around and jailing "dissidents".

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