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Gaddafi Launching Onslaught In Zawiyah, Says Former Official

Benghazi (Libya), Mar 8: Moamer Gaddafi's forces have launched a final onslaught on the western Libyan city of Zawiyah, a former foreign ministry official said today, describing the situation as "very critical"."Round every corner there

PTI Updated on: March 09, 2011 8:22 IST
gaddafi launching onslaught in zawiyah says former official
gaddafi launching onslaught in zawiyah says former official

Benghazi (Libya), Mar 8: Moamer Gaddafi's forces have launched a final onslaught on the western Libyan city of Zawiyah, a former foreign ministry official said today, describing the situation as "very critical".


"Round every corner there are people shooting. He (Gaddafi) wants to take it before Wednesday. The international community must do something," said Mourad Hemayma.

Hemayma said members of his own family had been killed and wounded in the city, besieged for days by Gaddafi's tanks and troops.

Sky News said it witnessed the Libyan strongman's forces firing on unarmed civilian protesters in the town at the weekend, and that several people had been killed.

"The situation is very critical in Zawiyah. It's been surrounded and bombarded daily by soldiers," said Hemayma, who resigned as a senior foreign ministry official recently.

"We cannot let this go on," he said, speaking to AFP by telephone from Cairo, where he has become a spokesman for the rebel national council.

"The husband of my niece has been killed; my nephew has been critically injured. I cannot speak for every family, but from personal experience I know people have been killed and injured."

Zawiyah is 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Gaddafi's stronghold of Tripoli and the closest centre of open dissent to his near 42 year rule.

"We know there are militias on every street. We know they are planning to take the town before Wednesday," Hemayma said.

He added that rebel fighters inside the town "captured some people from his brigades and they told them 'our orders are to take it before Wednesday'."

Libyan opposition website Almanara said "fierce battles" took place in the city yesterday.

It was not possible to confirm the reports because AFP does not have a correspondent in the city and residents were not immediately reachable by telephone.

Almanara posted an audio account from an unidentified woman speaking from the city who said: "Old and young people are dying and we cannot even evacuate the injured... Since 10:00 am (0800 GMT) tanks have been firing," she said.

A flurry of tweets by opposition groups described a catastrophic situation and accused Gaddafi forces of destroying the city. PTI
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