Libya: battle for Tripoli begins; more massacres reported

Heavy gunfire broke out in Tripoli March 6, as rebels dismissed claims on Libyan state TV that forces loyal to Moammar Qaddafi have recaptured a string of key towns, including Misrata, Tobruk and oil hub Ras Lanuf. It is clearer that Sirte—Qaddafi’s hometown on the central coast—and Sebha in the south remain in government hands. A militia led by the dictator’s son Khamis Qaddafi is said to have shelled the rebel-held city of Zawiyah, 30 miles west of Tripoli, before moving in with more than 20 tanks. Witnesses in Zawiyah said at least 30 people, ­including women and children, were killed as tanks blasted houses, cars and ­ambulances trying to reach the wounded, and troops dragged people from their homes.

In Benghazi, the principal rebel-controlled city, a British SAS unit is said to have been captured. The eight-man unit of the UK’s elite military force was reportedly escorting a British diplomat on a mission to establish contact with the opposition that holds Libya’s east when it was seized by rebel fighters. The incident has been widely reported in the British press, but London had no comment. (Middle East Online, Middle East Online, Radio Australia, Radio Australia, The Mirror, March 6)

See our last post on the struggle for Libya.

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