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Libya Crisis: Fighting resumes in key cities
Published on 4 Apr. 2011 10:58 PM IST
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Tripoli, Apr 3 : Fighting has resumed in Libya with rebel forces continuing to battle for control of the eastern oil town of Brega.
Rebels have captured the university on the outskirts of the city, AFP says.
Overnight, shelling resumed in Misrata, Libya’s third biggest city and the last big rebel stronghold in the west, which has been besieged for weeks.
At least 13 people were killed when a coalition plane fired on a rebel convoy between Brega and Ajdabiya on Friday.
The rebels’ leadership has acknowledged that firing in the air through lack of discipline could have provoked the Nato air strike on their own forces on Friday.
The opposition leadership says it is trying to bring a new professionalism to its military campaign.
Road blocks have been set up close to the frontline and only soldiers with at least some training are allowed through.
Brega - some 800km (500 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli - has been the scene of intense exchanges over the past few days since pro-Gaddafi forces returned after being driven out.
The rebels had claimed to have recaptured the key oil town on Saturday, but pro-Gaddafi snipers were still said to be active, and others were apparently holed up in the university, AFP reports.
Early on Sunday morning, the rebels pushed forward and were occupying the university’s vast campus on the outskirts of Brega, according to an AFP journalist.
At least one person was killed and several wounded early on Sunday when forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shelled a building in Misrata, a resident has told Reuters news agency.
There have also been reports that Gaddafi forces have shelled the town of Yafran in a mountainous region south-west of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, pan-Arab satellite channel al-Arabiya has reported, quoting an eyewitness.
Six-and-a-half weeks after the uprising began, it is hard to see how either side can break out of the military and political deadlock into which this conflict has descended, says the BBC’s Jon Leyne in the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi.
Neither side has the power to force an outright military victory, but neither is weak enough to force them into serious peace negotiations either, our correspondent adds. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has called for a swift end to the conflict in Libya even if it means offering Col Gaddafi safe haven in another country.
Speaking to the BBC, Archbishop Tutu, who retired from public life last year, said in an ideal world the Libyan leader should stand trial, but that in reality it was better “to let him have a soft landing and save the lives as many people as you possibly can”.
The rebels are determined to strengthen their forces and defeat Col Gaddafi, a spokeswoman for the transitional national council, Iman Bugaighis, has told the BBC World Service.
“We have reorganised our troops, our army forces. Now the army is in the front and then followed by our volunteers who are fighting with the army,” she told the Weekend World Today programme.
“We know and we admit that it’s unequal forces of course, and we are, after all, civilians and volunteers, most of us; and it was planned, intentionally, from the beginning not to have [a] structured army.
“Of course we are determined, this is the end of it, that this land cannot bear both of us. We will do whatever it takes to liberate our country.”
An uprising against Col Gaddafi’s rule in February has developed into an armed conflict pitting rebels against government forces and drawing in a Nato-led coalition with a UN mandate to protect civilians.
At least several thousand people have been killed and many more have been injured as the two sides battle for control over territory.
The country’s vital coastal cities are now roughly split between pro-Gaddafi forces controlling Tripoli and the west, and rebels controlling Benghazi in the east.

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