Government continues to pound opposition-held city with rockets
A resident of Misrata says rebel fighters have driven Moammar Gadhafi’s forces to the edge of the besieged city in western Libya, but that government forces continue to attack with rockets.
The resident says rebel fighters on Sunday cleared the rest of Tripoli Street, a thoroughfare previously controlled by Gadhafi loyalists. He says opposition forces took control of the main hospital in the area.
The Misrata resident who asked to be identified only by his given name, Abdel Salam, for fear of retribution, said two people were killed and that government troops fired 70 rockets at Misrata.
Late Saturday, a Libyan government official claimed that troops had halted operations in Misrata as part of an attempt by tribal chiefs to negotiate with the rebels.
Misrata, the only major rebel stronghold in Gadhafi-controlled western Libya, has become the most dramatic battleground in the Libyan uprising, which began in February after similar revolts in Tunisia and Egypt ousted longtime leaders. Fighting elsewhere in the country is at a stalemate, even with NATO airstrikes that began last month.
Hundreds of people have been killed in two months of a government siege backed by tanks, mortars and snipers firing from rooftops. Late last week, rebels drove snipers from a tall downtown building, in a setback for Gadhafi loyalists who had controlled the city center. The rebels have defended positions around Misrata’s seaport.
“They have no mercy. They are pounding the city hard,” Misrata resident Osama al-Shahmi said of Gadhafi’s forces, speaking Sunday after being evacuated from the city by boat.
“Everyone in Misrata is convinced that the dictator must go,” said al-Shahmi, 36, a construction company administrator who was wounded by shrapnel from a Grad rocket. His right leg wrapped in bandages, al-Shahmi flashed a victory sign as he was wheeled on a gurney into a waiting ambulance upon arrival in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
Kaim, the Libyan official, said the army has halted operations in Misrata since Friday, as part of the attempt of tribal leaders to negotiate an exit deal for the rebels.
However, residents reported heavy fighting, shelling and explosions in the east and south of Misrata and doctors said Saturday was one of the bloodiest days in weeks.
At least 24 people were killed and 75 were wounded, many of them critically, said a doctor at a Misrata hospital who asked to be identified only by his first name because he was afraid of government retribution. He said that hospital officials who feared a strong attack Saturday had moved out some patients a day earlier to make way for more casualties.
Kaim said the tribal chiefs are determined to put an end to the fighting, in part because it has blocked access to the Misrata seaport. “The leaders of the tribes are determined to find a solution to this problem within 48 hours,” he said.
If negotiations fail, “the other option, which is still available for the leaders and the heads of the tribes is a military intervention to liberate Misrata,” he said.
He said the six main tribes in the region can muster 60,000 armed men.
Also Sunday, two aid vessels carrying more than 1,400 Misratra evacuees, most of them foreign workers, arrived in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya. Such ships have been ferrying hundreds of people, including migrant workers and wounded Libyans, from Misrata to Benghazi in recent days.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 people, many of them migrants, are still stranded in the port area of Misrata, awaiting evacuation, said Javier Cepero of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Some of the migrants have been waiting for rescue for four or five weeks, he said. The Libyan Red Crescent is trying to provide the stranded workers with food and medical care, but sending aid is difficult because of the fighting, he said.
Hubbard reported from Benghazi, Libya.
More Related Stories
- Illinois' fracking and coal rush is a national crisis
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11