Zawiyah in rebel hands, but under siege

2011-03-05 16:08

Benghazi - At least seven people were killed on Saturday and dozens wounded when loyalists of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attacked the rebel-held western city of Zawiyah, a resident and a doctor told AFP.

Speaking by telephone they said that Zawiyah was still in rebel hands, but under siege by loyalist troops following a heavy assault by Gaddafi's forces.

"At least seven people were killed in the offensive launched this morning (Saturday) by two battalions on the city and there are dozens of wounded," a doctor in the besieged town told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"What happened this morning is horrible. The mercenaries opened fire on anyone who dared go outdoors, even on children," said the doctor, appealing for help.

"At the hospitals we need everything. We need help," he said from Zawiyah, 60km west of Tripoli.

The doctor, and a city resident, stressed that despite the heavy assault on Saturday, rebels were still in control of the centre of Zawiyah.

"There were two offensives. The Khamis battalion (normally commanded by one of Gaddafi's sons) struck from the east of the city and the Hosban battalion struck from the west," he said.

"The resistance (rebels) killed many people and captured many enemy forces," he said, adding that he was in a "state of shock".

A city resident, also reached by telephone, said the rebels repulsed the pro-Gaddafi troops outside Zawiyah.