Gaddafi tanks pound Misrata

2011-05-02 10:21

Misrata – Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi launched a new armoured incursion into the besieged rebel city of Misrata today after overnight clashes killed at least six people, the rebels said.

“Gaddafi’s tanks are attempting to enter the city through Al-Ghiran,” a southwestern suburb near the airport of Libya’s third largest city, a rebel official said.

At least four or five tanks, which had been concealed at the government-held airport to avoid NATO air attacks, were engaged in the offensive, another rebel official said.

AFP correspondents in the Mediterranean port city heard heavy tank fire from 6am, answered by heavy machinegun fire from the rebels.

“We have counted six dead and several dozen wounded,” a medical official told AFP at around 9.30am after the overnight clashes. The official had no immediate word on how many of the casualties were civilians.

“We have seven intensive care beds but at the moment there are eight who need them,” another medic said.

“The eighth is having to make do without a respirator and the nurses are having to help him breathe manually. If we get another critically ill patient, he will die,” said the doctor, a Western volunteer.

Misrata, the last major rebel bastion in western Libya, is surrounded by pro-Gaddafi forces and is entirely dependent on supply by sea.

Loyalist troops have repeatedly pounded the city’s port, killing two rebel fighters yesterday alone, witnesses said. 

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