Libyan government forces shell Misrata port road

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 15, 2011 6:37 AM
Libyan government forces shell Misrata port road

CAIRO (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi bombarded the besieged city of Misrata on Friday, shelling a road to the rebel-controlled port that is a lifeline for trapped civilians, a rebel spokesman said.

A doctor in Libya's third-biggest city, the rebels' last major enclave in the west of the country, told Al Jazeera television at least eight people had been killed by the latest artillery assault. Women and elderly were among the wounded, he added.

The rebel spokesman could not confirm the death toll.

"Tanks are shelling the Nakl al Theqeel area, (troops) are firing artillery rounds. It started this morning, then it stopped and now it has resumed," the spokesman, who identified himself as Gemal Salem, told Reuters by telephone.

Government forces have laid siege to Misrata for more than six weeks. The rebels have warned of an impending massacre unless NATO intensifies its air strikes. Aid agencies say a humanitarian disaster is unfolding.

Television footage from the coastal city shows buildings ripped apart by artillery fire, burned-out vehicles in rubble-strewn streets, and doctors treating wounded civilians with inadequate resources.

Rebel spokesman Salem said NATO's lack of a military strategy to unseat Gaddafi was causing many to question the coalition's intentions.

"Who needs the safe place, Gaddafi or the civilians? In which way does this world think? I don't know," he said.

A ship docked in Misrata late on Thursday to begin evacuating nearly 8,300 stranded migrants, many described as being in an "extremely poor state." [ID:nLDE73D2DF]

The Red Cross said it expected a humanitarian vessel with life-saving medical supplies to arrive in Misrata in the coming days, depending on the security situation around the port.

(Additional reporting by Mariam Karouny in Beirut; writing by Richard Lough; editing by Andrew Roche)