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Libyan rebels claim to have taken Brega

world Updated: Mar 27, 2011 09:55 IST

AFP
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Rebels battling Muammar Gaddafi's regime on Saturday said they had retaken the eastern town of Brega just hours after recapturing the strategic city of Ajadabiya in eastern Libya.

"We are in the centre of Brega," 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Ajdabiya, rebel fighter Abdelsalam al-Maadani said.

"Kadhafi's forces are on the retreat and should now be at Al-Bisher (30 kilometres, 20 miles) west of Brega," he said, adding that the rebels "are also advancing towards this area."

A journalist travelling with them confirmed by telephone seeing rebel fighters in control of the centre of the oil town, and said that government forces had completely withdrawn.

On March 13 the rebels abandoned Brega under heavy shelling from advancing government forces, and Libyan state television later that day declared the oil town "purged of the armed gangs."

Earlier on Saturday rebel forces had recaptured the key eastern town of Ajdabiya in their first significant victory since the launch of the Western-led air strikes a week ago.