News24

Women face the fire in Libya village

2011-07-13 17:02

Kikla - Nearly all the men of Kikla are on the front line fighting Muammar Gaddafi's forces, leaving their womenfolk to brave the almost daily rocket salvos from loyalist troops.

On a wall at the entrance of the hill village, a tag proclaims "Free Libya", although the streets are empty but for a handful of guards manning checkpoints and a few cars speeding past shops shuttered in Gaddafi green.

Kikla, which sits at the base of the Nafusa Mountains southwest of the Libyan capital, was seized by rebels from Gaddafi loyalists in a ferocious battle six weeks ago.

They have since been targeted by almost daily downpours of Grad rockets.

Fifty of them fell on Monday alone, ahead of a counterattack in which Kadhafi forces overran rebel advance positions around Gualish and pushed on towards Kikla on Wednesday.

Most residents have already taken shelter in Zintan, a nerve centre of the insurgency in western Libya, or in Berber villages nearer the Tunisian border, says Radwan Alqadi, a rebel spokesperson whose office has just been bombed.

But burrowed away in the houses are the women: wives, sisters, mothers and children of the fighters who have left for the front line a few kilometres away.

"It's terrifying, it's really dangerous. You never know when it will start, or how long it will last," says Amina, declining to identify her family by name for fear of recrimination.

Brothers are fighting

"Every day, I think I am going to die. But our brothers are fighting, so we cannot leave," says the 27-year-old.

Nestled in the hollow of the mountains at the end of a pass built by the Italians during their colonial adventures, Amina and her sisters, their immobile 60-year-old mother and three children live among fig and olive trees with four other families.

The bombing is intense. On Monday night, the women sitting on the terrace watched five rockets flash by in white before exploding in to a red fireball nearby.

"We came running into the house. It's not really safe, but it's better than staying outside. Sometimes we go up the mountain. But there are people who can not escape because they have no fuel," said Amina's brother Walid, a 20-year-old student.

In reality, there is nowhere safe in Kikla, except perhaps in the cave houses. On Monday, a rocket hit a house just up the mountain, slightly injuring a young man as he was having breakfast.

"There are not many rebels here," says Halima, Amina's 35-year-old sister. "We pray for God's protection, but we have response to their Grad rockets."

Allahu Akbar

As the rocket fire increases, so too does the panic.

"We stay seated and say 'Allahu Akbar' [God is greatest]. The children scream and cry, so we take them in our arms to try and calm them. The seven-year-old is having nightmares," Halima says.

There is no petrol in Kikla, and rarely is there any electricity. The telephone network has been down for a while. The residents are stocking food, but they sleep with one eye open.

"Gaddafii's soldiers dream of retaking Kikla," says Walid. They are only 10km away and could come by road or over the mountain. On Monday a battle took place very close by.

When they are not at the front, the men come to guard the checkpoints protecting the village while the women cook for the fighters.

"We're proud of them. We would never abandon them," Halima says.

Comments
  • Rahul - 2011-07-13 18:10

    • Some facts (that mainstream media will never disclose) about "Gaddafi and Libya: - Loans to Libyan citizens are given with NO interest. - Students would get paid the average salary for the profession they are studying for. - If you are unable to get employment the state would pay the full salary as if you were employed until you find employment. - When you get married the couple gets an apartment or house for free from the Government. - You could go to college anywhere in the world. The state pays 2,500 Euros plus accommodation and car allowance. - The cars are sold at factory cost. - Libya does not owe money, (not a cent) to anyone. No creditors. - - Free education and health care for all citizens. - 25% of the population with a university degree. - No beggars on the streets and nobody is homeless (until the recent bombing). - Bread costs only $0.15 per loaf.

      Anton - 2011-07-13 18:29

      WOW !!!!! What a great country, If I was the leader , I would hold elections, at least once a month. And for sure would get 95 % of the vote. The other 5 % would just be plain stupid !!!!!

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