Rebels says 124 civilians killed in west Libya city

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 29, 2011 2:36 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A rebel spokesman in east Libya said on Tuesday that 124 civilians had been killed in the past nine days of fighting in the western city of Misrata which has been under attack from Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

Ahmed Khalifa, a spokesman for the rebel movement in the eastern city of Benghazi, said the count was based on numbers obtained from hospitals in the city.

He told a news conference that medicine was running low but two boatloads of supplies had reached the coastal city on Monday. He said one came from Italy, but did not give further details.

Rebels and forces loyal to Gaddafi both have claimed control over parts of Misrata and fighting appeared to persist in the fiercely contested city, Libya's third largest.

Khalifa said rebels had destroyed two tanks in the south of Misrata and captured several mercenaries and a Libyan army colonel during fighting, though he did not give precise dates. He also said Gaddafi had sent a busload of people in civilian clothes to the city who opened fire when they got out.

It is impossible to verify reports about the fighting in Misrata because Libyan officials have prevented journalists from reporting independently from the city.

Libyan government officials describe the rebels are "armed gangs" bent on destabilizing Libya and terrorizing ordinary people.

(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Writing by Edmund Blair in Cairo; Editing by Michael Roddy)