Saturday, April 9, 2011

Libya: Gunfight as rebel town Ajdabiya on the brink

Government forces reportedly attacking eastern town from all sides as rebel fighters are forced back to Brega.

(Al Jazeera) - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, have shelled rebel positions west of Ajdabiya.

There has been a stalemate in the fighting with both
 sides advancing and retreating alternately [GALLO/GETTY]
There are reports the rebel-held town is on the brink of falling to government troops, in a major setback for rebels who earlier in the day had pushed westward towards Brega.

Al Jazeera's correspondents on the ground citing reliable sources said gun battles were taking place in the streets of Ajdabiya on Saturday.

Hoda Abdel-Hamid who had to turn back about 20 kilometres from Ajdabiya because of the shelling said the town was being pounded from the north, south and west.

"Reliable military sources told us that Gaddafi's forces managed to advance overnight from the southern desert and started shelling from that area.

"We are also told that there is street fighting going on inside Ajdabiya between rebels and Gaddafi loyalists. This is a very serious development because there is now fighting on two fronts – around Ajdabiya and around Brega."

The Reuters news agency said the blasts and gunfire were heard for 30 minutes from near the western boundary of the town, which is the gateway to the opposition stronghold of Benghazi in the country's east.

"They are bombarding the western gate [of Ajdabiya]," a rebel said.

At least 10 loud explosions were heard near the outskirts of the town.

Fear and anger

Our correspondent said there was a lot of anger on the ground as rebel fighters failed to hold their ground against the advancing forces on Gaddafi's side.

"The advance by government troops and how they quickly they can adapt to impediments is a clear indication that the opposition fighters are not able to hold ground.

"There is a lot of anger among them. The atmosphere has completely changed on the frontlines. The media is not as welcome as it used to be. There is a lot of anger at NATO and at the international community."

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