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Rebels gun for Tripoli

Tripoli is assumed to be Gaddafi's last stronghold and its fall would signal the end of his regime.

world Updated: Feb 25, 2011 23:34 IST

Government forces shot dead protesters in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Friday, television stations reported, as unrest broke out across the city assumed to be the last stronghold of leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Witnesses described swirling clashes on the streets between security forces loyal to Gaddafi and crowds of protesters after Friday Muslim prayers.

Al Jazeera television said two people had been killed and several wounded in heavy shooting in several districts. Another channel, Al Arabiya, said seven people had been killed.

"I think Tripoli is in uprising," said one man in the centre of the city.

Hadar, a businessman who declined to give his full name, told Reuters in Benghazi by telephone that he had been among a group of young people protesting after Friday prayers in Tripoli when security forces opened fire.

"After the Friday prayers, the youth came out into the street and shouted 'Down with Gaddafi, Long live Libya!'. The security forces met us with live gunfire and teargas. I saw two men fall down and someone told me they were shot in the head."

Meanwhile, at least five people were killed when security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in the Janzour district in the west of Tripoli on Friday, a resident said.

The violence came after anti-Gaddafi protesters took control of several towns close to Tripoli following a rebellion centred in the city of Benghazi that removed much of eastern Libya from Gaddafi's control.

Meanwhile the World Food Programme said on Friday people in Libya are struggling with shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies and could face more difficulty if fresh stocks were not brought in.