Turkey evacuates 300 severely injured from besieged Libyan towns (UPDATE)
Source changed, information updated (first version posted at 00:12)
Turkish forces evacuated 300 seriously wounded people from the besieged Libyan towns of Misurata and Benghazi Sunday so they can receive medical assistance in Turkey, dpa reported.
The evacuees were expected to start the 40-hour trip to Izmir Sunday evening, according to a Turkish diplomat at the Benghazi harbour.
The operation was carried out by Turkish workers and representatives of the Red Crescent, who moved the victims of the ongoing fighting onto the ship Ankara. Libya has been convulse by violence since rebel forces rose up against Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi in February.
Rebel forces, who hold the two towns, welcomed the boat and its rescue crew enthusiastically.
"Misurata is being bombarded with mortars every day. The city has been under siege for 40 days. What's happening is really a catastrophe," said one rebel spokesperson.
Countless houses have been set ablaze and citizens have been abused. One Libyan ship was fired upon during the rescue mission. There was no information about the number of dead or wounded.
Three Turkish tanker aircrafts, 10 F-16s and a frigate are taking turns to protect Ankara ferry, Turkish TRT TV channel reported.