Second pro-Kadhafi assault on Zawiyah: report

6th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rebels in Zawiyah forced back an attack by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, but they made a second attempt to retake it, a British journalist inside the town reported Saturday.

Sky News television reported doctors as saying that at least 12 people had died of their wounds in hospital and 60 others have been injured. Alex Crawford, the Sky News correspondent inside the town, saw the corpses of eight pro-Kadhafi soldiers.

Zawiyah is some 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of Tripoli along the coast and the nearest town to the capital in rebel hands.

Crawford said she saw crowds of several thousand people "being fired on by the military. There were many killed at that point".

She said she was given access to the inner command of the rebel forces -- a 10-man military council run by high-ranking soldiers who had defected from Kadhafi's forces, including a general.

They have weapons including tanks, anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and assault rifles.

She said they had taken up positions around the main square in anticipation of an attack.

"At dawn that attack came, with a whole column of tanks just before dawn firing from beyond the square and trying to get in," Crawford said.

"There was a firefight which went on for at least three hours, continuously."

Many injured and dead were brought into the mosque on the corner of the square, where a makeshift hospital had been set up.

"The fighting went on for about three hours until the people of the town believed they had pushed back the army. They then poured out into the square and we saw at least five tanks had been taken over. Some were still burning."

She said there was a "large number of dead Kadhafi soldiers". Some of them could be identified as being from the Khamis Brigade, which is under the command of one of the leader's sons.

Crawford said fighting continued "sporadically" throughout Saturday, though there were a few quiet hours in the middle of the day.

She said she had been told by colleagues outside the military cordon ringing Zawiyah that more tanks were waiting to enter the town.

© 2011 AFP

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