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Gaddafi loyalists target rebels, civilians in town of Sirte

Arab World Materials 1 October 2011 18:33
Fierce fighting raged on Saturday between Libyan rebels and fighters loyal to fugitive leader Moamer Gaddafi in the centre of his hometown Sirte, broadcaster Al Jazeera reported.
Gaddafi loyalists target rebels, civilians in town of Sirte

Fierce fighting raged on Saturday between Libyan rebels and fighters loyal to fugitive leader Moamer Gaddafi in the centre of his hometown Sirte, broadcaster Al Jazeera reported.

The rebel forces were finding it hard to tighten their control on the town, located on the Mediterranean coast, due to stiff resistance from Gaddafi loyalists, who are holed up on the rooftops of buildings in Sirte, dpa quoted the report as saying.

Sirte is one of the last two pro-Gaddafi strongholds, which the rebels have struggled for more than two weeks to seize.

According to Al Jazeera, pro-Gaddafi snipers were firing on rebels and civilians trying to leave the troubled town.

There were no immediate reports on casualties.

Meanwhile, a team from the Red Cross entered Sirte on Saturday from the western side of the town and reported "very bad" conditions facing residents caught in the cross-fire, reported the Doha-based television station.

Inhabitants in the town were suffering a shortage in food, water and electricity supplies, it added.

Meanwhile, rebels denied Saturday reports that Moussa Ibrahim, the spokesman for Gaddafi, had been arrested.

A pro-rebel television station had reported Thursday that Ibrahim, disguised as a woman, was captured near Sirte.

A statement from the rebels' Transitional National Council said only some of Ibrahim's family members were captured, and a search for him was still under way, according to broadcaster Al Arabiya.

Ibrahim reportedly fled the capital Tripoli when rebel forces fighting Gaddafi troops overran the city in late August.

He has been sending messages to loyalists through a pro-Gaddafi broadcaster to keep fighting the "traitors."

The conflict in Libya began in February after anti-government protests sparked a government crackdown. NATO, with a UN-mandate, began enforcing a no-fly zone over the country in March.

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