Gaddafi forces kill eight in oasis attack
TRIPOLI — Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi attacked the Ghadames oasis southwest of Tripoli at dawn on Sunday, killing at least eight new regime fighters, a local official and a medic told AFP.
‘We came under attack at dawn today from Gaddafi loyalists and groups of Tuaregs,’ Muhandes Sirajeddin, deputy chief of the local council in Ghadames 600 kilometres (370 miles) southwest of the capital, told AFP by telephone.
He said eight National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters were killed and 50 others wounded in the fighting. A male nurse at Ghadames hospital, Hassan Al Mufid, confirmed that eight bodies were brought into the morgue.
Ghadames, which is also known as the ‘Pearl of the desert,’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to Roman ruins on the border with Algeria and Tunisia.
According to Sirajeddin fighting raged in the oasis town between NTC forces and Gaddafi supporters, including mercenaries and sleeper cells.
‘The attack began at around 5:30 am (0330 GMT). Around 100 Gaddafi loyalists, including mercenaries who came from around Algeria and groups of Tuareg took part in the fighting,’ he said.
‘Some sleeper cells also joined in when the attack was launched,’ he said.
Sirajeddin said the attack was repulsed.
‘There were about 400 rebels and they managed to push back the attackers from the city, but the clashes continue and we are short of military equipment and medicine,’ he said.
One witness, Isaa Brika, said rockets and shells were raining down on Ghadames.
‘Gaddafi forces are targeting the town with rockets and shells and trading gunfire with the rebels,’ said Brika, who also spoke by phone.
He said five bodies were taken to the town’s main hospital, where some 20 fighters were also being treated.
Mohammed Taha, another resident, told AFP: ‘The town needs help to repel the assault.’
Meanwhile dozens of people demonstrated in the Libyan capital Tripoli demanding that the new rulers dispatch reinforcements to Ghadames.
‘We demands they send reinforcements to the revolutionaries as well as supplies,’ said one of the demonstrators, university professor Ibrahim Mukhtar.
He also called on Algeria to handover to the new Libyan authorities any Gaddafi regime supporter who flees across the border.
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