Rebels Claim Regaining Control of Libya's ZawiyaWorld | March 5, 2011, Saturday // 11:55| views
Fierce fighting between rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces is reported in the Libyan cities of Zawiya and Ras Lanuf. Photo by BGNES
Heavy fighting continues Saturday in the Libyan city of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, in an attempt of leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces to regain control over the country.
Government troupes using artillery and anti-aircraft guns had attempted to take the main square in Zawiya, but BBC sites local residents saying the tanks had been captured and burnt, government troops had retreated, and the city was now back in rebel hands.
Many casualties have been reported in Zawiya (at least 18) and in other key cities.
Dozens of people were also killed and hurt in apparently accidental blasts at an arms dump in rebel-held Benghazi on Friday.
Fierce fighting was also reported by BBC in and around Ras Lanuf, with the sound of multiple explosions and heavy artillery being heard after opposition fighters advanced on the city. The fighting is attributed to a counter-attack by pro-Gaddafi forces, which withdrew to Ras Lanuf two days ago after a battle a little further east in Brega. There is information that tanks had fired at residential houses.
On Friday, clashes briefly erupted after prayers in the capital, Tripoli, but protesters dispersed after security forces fired tear gas and baton rounds.
Gaddafi has also appointed a new ambassador to the United Nations to replace the envoys who voted against him and for UN sanctions on Libya. It remains unclear if the US will grant the new envoy, Ali Abdussalam Treki, a visa to allow him to travel to New York.
The Gaddafi government has the right to appoint envoys as it is still the recognized representative of Libya at the UN, the BBC correspondent points out.
The UN estimates that more than 1 000 people have been killed in the violence in Libya.
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