Rebels say hit by Gaddafi forces east of Sirte

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 10:28 AM
Rebels say hit by Gaddafi forces east of Sirte

RAS LANUF, Libya (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attacked rebels on Sunday in Bin Jawad, a town between rebel-held Ras Lanuf and Sirte on the coast, rebel fighters said.

One fighter, returning wounded from Bin Jawad, said the Gaddafi loyalists had attacked with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Asked what he had seen, he replied: "Death." Distraught, he would not say any more.

Ambulances rushed casualties from Bin Jawad to Ras Lanuf, an oil port 660 km (410 miles) east of Tripoli. The rebels took Ras Lanuf on Friday.

Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, is less than 100 km (60 miles) west of Bin Jawad.

Rebel fighters in Ras Lanuf said they had received news of the attack by phone from the frontline. "People tell us in Bin Jawad there are Gaddafi forces. Some rebels have been hit by snipers," Khamis al-Libi, a rebel fighter, said. "They have RPGs, and machineguns," added Mansour Mayloud, another fighter. "There's been an attack on Bin Jawad."

At Ras Lanuf hospital, Dr. Heitham Gheriani said at least 15 injured had arrived at the hospital, hurt in fighting near Ben Jawad this morning. One French journalist was shot in the leg, he said. Four rebels were seriously injured and unlikely to survive, he said, without giving details.

"The protesters were going west to liberate the country. There was some unexpected shooting. Definitely there was an airplane," Gheriani said. Another hospital staff member confirmed the numbers of injured and the arrival of the French photographer.

Witnesses said a warplane attacked Ras Lanuf early on Sunday, but there were no casualties.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas in Ras Lanuf; writing by Tom Perry in Cairo; editing by Philippa Fletcher)