England's White Dragon

England's White Dragon
England's true Flag

Friday, 4 March 2011

Libya Battle for Strategic Town Kills over 35

Libya Battle for Strategic Town Kills over 35 people and  the body count going up

The World has gone mad

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government widened its counterattack
on its rebel opponents, waging fierce battles to wrest control of the town of
Zawiya from rebel troops, attacking an eastern oil town and firing on peaceful
protesters after Friday prayers in Tripoli, witnesses said.

Over 35 people were
reported dead, more than 100 wounded and 65 missing in Zawiya, 25 miles west of
Tripoli. A government spokesman said the Qaddafi forces had retaken the city.
"It is liberated this afternoon, and we are going to take you there
tomorrow to see for yourself," he said. But several rebels reached by
telephone in the evening said that, after considerable bloodshed near the east
and west gates to the city, they still held the town.

One witness told the London
times; the worst carnage occurred after todays (Friday)  prayers, when a crowd of people decided to
march peacefully to Tripoli. As they got to the gates, the witness said, the
militias opened fire, killing dozens and wounding at least 50.

“We need some help
from another hospital because our hospital is too small for 50 people injured
here, but the problem is transportation,” this person said. “They shoot even
the ambulances that carry the injured. I have seen by my own eyes an ambulance
driver shot in the hand.”

One witness called
the shooting in Zawiya a massacre. “I cannot describe the enormity of the
violence they are committing against us,” he said by telephone, with bursts of
gunfire audible in the background. “We want our country to be free.”

Opposition sources
confirmed the death of Col. Hussein Darbouk, a senior Libyan officer who
defected and was commanding the rebel forces, in the fighting.

Government troops and
rebels engaged in a fierce battle for control of the oil town of Ras Lanuf,
witnesses said, with thudding explosions heard on the road north of town. All
day long, trucks mounted with guns and swarming with rebel fighters raced from
the city of Brega, about 25 miles to the east, to the front lines, where they
confronted mortar fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The wounded kept arriving
into the night at the hospital in Brega, witnesses said.

There were
unconfirmed reports of a fire at an oil refinery in Zewietina, a town north of
Ajdabiya in the same eastern coastal region, and Libyan warplanes bombed arms
depot outside Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, a rebel spokesman
told Reuters.

In Tripoli, Colonel
Qaddafi’s forces opened fire on Friday with tear gas and what a witness
described as live ammunition to scatter protesters who gathered after noon
prayers outside a mosque in a restive neighbourhood of the city, chanting
slogans and defying the authorities’ attempt to lock down the capital.

Young demonstrator’s
hurled rocks at the militia forces cruising the Tajura neighbourhood in blue
trucks, but the crackle of fire from what sounded like automatic weapons
panicked the protesters and they fled in several directions.

“Everyone was
supposed to retreat to the mosque, but they are scared of the killing because
they are using bullets,” a doctor in the main Tajura mosque said as some
protesters scrambled for cover there. Two people were injured, he said.
Witnesses said the militia fired AK-47 assault rifles.

reported that pro-Qaddafi forces had fired on a medical team near the
town of Misuratah, wounding two medics who were trying to retrieve a body.
“This disturbing assault indicates that pro-Qaddafi forces are prepared to use
lethal force indiscriminately even against those whose role it is to care for
the wounded and pick up the dead,” the organization said in a statement.

Initially, worshipers in Tajura said
they planned to display their opposition to Colonel Qaddafi from inside the
mosque, staging a sit-in after the noon prayers that have become a flash point
for demonstrations in the uprisings spreading across the Arab world

But, as prayers ended, thousands of
protesters — mainly men — lofted the pre-Qaddafi flag that has become the
emblem of the rebellion and began milling in a courtyard outside, shouting
slogans such as “Free, free
Libya,” “Tajura will bury
you” and “The people want to bring down the regime” — a rallying cry in many
parts of the Arab world. The mosque had been packed and many more people prayed
in a courtyard outside.

The protest soon
thinned out, reflecting a pervasive fear of reprisals, and only several hundred
demonstrators remained, keeping close to the mosque itself. But as they chanted
slogans, the pro-Qaddafi militia arrived to disperse them and they broke up
into several groups.

Before the Friday
noon prayers, witnesses in some neighbourhoods of Tripoli said roadblocks
backed by armoured vehicles and tanks had been set up while official minders
ordered foreign journalists not to leave the hotel where they have been told to
stay by the authorities.

The government’s
measures came against the backdrop of a state of terror that has seized two
working-class neighbourhoods here that just a week ago exploded in revolt.
Residents on Thursday reported constant surveillance, searches of cars and even
cell phones by militiamen with Kalashnikovs at block-by-block checkpoints and a
rash of disappearances of those involved in last week’s protest. Some said
secret policemen had been offering money for information about the identities
and whereabouts of anti-Qaddafi protesters.

As rebel fighters in
the country’s east celebrated their defeat of a raid on Wednesday by hundreds
of Colonel Qaddafi’s loyalists in the strategic oil town of Brega, many people
in Tripoli said they had lost hope that peaceful protests might push the Libyan
leader from power the way street demonstrations had toppled the strongmen in neighbouring
Egypt and Tunisia.

The measures against
foreign reporters reflected a deep animosity despite the government’s decision
to invite 130 journalists to Tripoli. In a rambling, three-hour speech to
loyalists on Wednesday, Colonel Qaddafi said: “Libya doesn’t like foreign
correspondents. They shouldn’t even know about the weather forecasts in Libya,
because we are suspicious.”

Even in what pass for
normal times, Libya severely restricts visas for foreign reporters, issuing
them only when the authorities wish to hold some important event offering
tribute to Colonel Qaddafi.

But some protesters
on Friday said they had been emboldened by the presence of foreign camera crews
and journalists who eluded the authorities’ attempt to pen them in. But the
pro-Qaddafi militia opened fire even though British television crews were
filming the episode.

“We are brave, huh?”
a protester had said without offering his name. “If Qaddafi brings weapons we
will die. But we are confident in ourselves and our cause.”

Worshipers said rebel
leaders in Benghazi, the eastern stronghold of the uprising, had sent word
urging protesters to remain inside mosques for sit-ins after noon prayers, but
that instruction seemed to have been ignored in Tajura, at least.

Referring to an
interview in which Colonel Qaddafi said all Libyans loved him, a worshiper said
the aim of the sit-ins was “to show the number of people who hate Qaddafi.” A
resident of Tajura reached by telephone said one slogan on Friday declared:
“You say we love you, but we don’t.”

The demonstrations on
Friday demonstrated just how effectively the government’s ruthless application
of force in Tripoli has locked down the city and suppressed simmering rage,
even as the rebels have held control of the eastern half of the country and a
string of smaller western cities surrounding the capital.

“I think the people know that if they
make any protest now they will be killed, so all the people in Tripoli are
waiting for someone to help them,” one resident said. “It is easy to kill
anybody here. I have seen it with my own eyes.”

No comments:

Post a Comment