Libya rebels repel Gaddafi attack | world | Hindustan Times
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Libya rebels repel Gaddafi attack

world Updated: Jul 24, 2011 22:10 IST

Libyan rebels on Sunday repelled forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who tried to recapture the desert hamlet of Gualish, an AFP correspondent at the scene reported.

The loyalist troops launched their offensive to seize Gualish, on the road to Tripoli and southwest of the capital, after losing it to the rebels in fierce fighting earlier this month.

Rebels in Gualish said they had prevented regime forces from getting within a kilometre (less than a mile) of the hamlet, and that they had been reinforced by dozens of insurgents from Zintan, the main rebel base in western Libya.

Before launching their counter-attack, Gaddafi loyalists sent dozens of civilians into the hamlet to announce their imminent arrival, rebel witnesses told AFP.

The civilians arrived at around 3pm (1300 GMT) in dozens of vehicles from Asabah, a Gaddafi-controlled town 17 kilometres (11 miles) away.

The civilians got to within 200 metres (yards) of a rebel-controlled checkpoint, where they said they had been forced to advance ahead of Gaddafi's forces to deliver the message that they were about to attack, witnesses said.

The civilians then headed back towards Asabah before Gaddafi's troops made their advance on Gualish.

An AFP correspondent within earshot reported that two hours of intense fighting then took place until 5pm (1500 GMT).

Hundreds of rebels had defended Gualish from a previous loyalist attack on July 13.