Battle for control of libya gets bloody; 74 killed in clashes
Libya on Saturday plunged into a civil war with see-saw battles going on between Muammar Gaddafi loyalists and rebels for territorial gains, leaving 74 dead in one of the bloodiest day of fighting as the country’s opposition held its first conclave apparently to form a parallel government.
The efforts to form a self-declared national-council comes as US and western countries as well as world bodies have virtually derecognised the Gaddafi regime and interpol has issued warrants against him and his family for genocide.
As heavy battles and explosions continue across the country, the US and NATO forces warships and fighters were positioned of the strife torn country’s coast.
US President Barack Obama has said that the primary mission of the task force is to undertake humanitarian evacuation, “but all options were on the table.”
While Gaddafi’s forces using tanks and heavy artillery tried to retake towns in the country’s oil-rich east, the rebels beat back attacks on the key town of al-Zawiyah, close to the capital Tripoli and overran oil town of Ras Lanuf.
More than 20 people were injured in Ajdabiya where fresh fightings between the rebels and Gaddafi forces have erupted. In another development, explosions at a military arms depot outside the rebel-held city of Benghazi, which took place minutes apart, left at least 34 people dead and dozens injured, reports said.
Eyewitnesses quoted by al-Jazeera said that Gaddafi’s forces in their desperate bid to widen the security belt around Tripoli made three advances to capture al-Zawiyah, even training tanks on residential buildings.
BBC said more than 30 people were killed when 15 tanks and lorry loads of Gaddafi loyalists swarmed into the town, getting into street fighting with the rebels.