Fierce fighting in key city in western Libya kills 17
Holding out under a rain of shelling and sniper fire, Libyan rebels fought Moammar Gadhafi’s forces Sunday in close-quarters battles in the city center of Misrata, the last major rebel foothold in western Libya. Seventeen people were killed, an NGO worker and an opposition activist said.
Government troops have been laying siege to the city on Libya’s Mediterranean coast for weeks, prompting repeated international warnings of a dire humanitarian situation as well as calls for NATO forces to intensify airstrikes on Gadhafi’s forces there.
On Sunday, government troops, who have pushed into the city center from the outskirts in recent days, pounded Misrata with mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, said resident Abdel-Salam, who provided only his given name for fear of retribution.
“Residents have become so accustomed to the sound of mortars and missiles,” he said. “Snipers are still on the roofs of tall buildings shooting at anything that moves in the city center.”
Rebels fought government forces back from an area around a central produce market, regaining a small sliver of territory, said Rida al-Montasser, a local activist reached by Skype.
He said a hospital report that he received from a doctor, showed 17 people, including rebels, were killed and 74 others were injured.