Libya: Berber refugees report atrocities in remote Western Mountains

As battles rage for the Libyan coastal cities of Misrata and Ajdabiyah, refugees arriving in Tunisia report atrocities by Moammar Qaddafi’s forces in the remote Western Mountains—including the shelling of homes, poisoning wells with petrol, and threatening women with rape. “The bombardment…is targeting homes, hospitals, schools,” said Mohamed Ouan, from the town of Kalaa, who arrived at Tunisia’s Dehiba border crossing with about 500 other Libyans from the Western Mountains. “No one is interested in this region, which is suffering in silence.” The Western Mountains region, which includes the towns of Nalout, Kalaa, Yafran and Zintan, is populated by Berbers, a group traditionally viewed with suspicion by Qaddafi, and has been the scene of a local civil rebellion. Videos posted on the Internet show crowds in Kalaa waving the green, black and red flag of the anti-Qaddafi rebels and chanting slogans in the Berber language. Another video, from Nalout, showed people at a protest holding up a banner with the words: “The rebels of Nalout are supporting the Benghazi rebels.” (Reuters, April 10)

NATO meanwhile stepped up air-strikes on pro-Qaddafi forces April 10, incinerating a convoy of vehicles laying siege to Ajdabiya. Simultaenously, a delegation of African leaders including South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma arrived in Tripoli for talks with Qaddafi, part of an African Union initiative to begin dialogue between rebels and the regime. (WSJ, April 10)

See our last posts on Libya and the regional revolutions.

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