Gunfire breaks out in Libyan capitalMarch 6th, 2011 - 2:31 pm ICT by IANS
Tripoli, March 6 (IANS) Sounds of machine-gun fire echoed across the Libyan capital city of Tripoli early Sunday morning, a day after more than 30 people were killed in clashes between opposition fighters and pro-Gaddafi troops in the western town of Az-Zawiyah.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera they heard lots of gunfire coming from downtown Tripoli at around 5.45 a.m. local time. However, it was not possible to identify who was firing or why, the report said.
Anti-government protesters are demanding the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who has ruled the country for 41 years. The widespread protests that broke out Feb 14 have reportedly claimed scores of lives, with one estimate putting the number at about 2,000.
Tripoli has been a stronghold of Gaddafi.
In western Libya, opposition forces claimed to have taken control of the oil port of Ras Lanuf, while pro-Gaddafi soldiers reportedly switched sides.
More than 30 people were Saturday killed as opposition fighters forced back government troops in the western town of Az-Zawiyah.
Gaddafi’s forces encircled Az-Zawiyah Saturday, manning checkpoints about three kilometres from the city centre after opposition fighters had pushed them back in fierce fighting earlier in the day.
Troops later mounted a second attack on the town, which lies just 50 km west of the capital Tripoli, but were again pushed back.
As many as 200 people were wounded in the fighting that drove the pro-Gaddafi forces out of the town.
Youssef Shagan, a spokesman for the opposition fighters, said Gaddafi’s forces had entered Az-Zawiyah in the morning with hundreds of soldiers, tanks and armoured vehicles.
They broke through the defences into the Martyrs’ Square in the heart of the town, but hours later were pushed back.
“Our people fought back. We have won for now and civilians are gathering in the square,” Shagan was quoted as saying.
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