Rebels in fierce battle for western Libyan town

RAGDALIN- Libyan rebels were locked in fierce fighting on Sunday with forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi as they tried to take full control of the west of the country.
Rebel fighters told an AFP correspondent accompanying them that they had been ambushed by loyalists in the town of Ragdalin, southwest of Zuwarah, triggering a battle.

"The people in Ragdalin told us we could enter in peace and then they began shooting at us," said Alla Mansuri, 27.
"There were about 50 of us, we went in peacefully but it was a trap," said Nabil Bukra, 25, adding that they came under fire with heavy machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
The fighting was still going on several hours later, with the loyalists also using mortars and sniper fire against the rebel artillery and machine-guns.
A medical aide said at least one fighter was killed and four were wounded.
Rebels who took cover in the mosque along with a dozen civilians called on the loyalists to surrender, but most were finally forced to retreat and await reinforcements and ammunition.
The rebels had over the past week seized the Ras Jdir border crossing with Tunisia and several towns from where Kadhafi fighters were bombarding rebel-held Zuwarah with no more than token shots being fired, and the sudden resistance shocked them.
"I don't understand, why are they still fighting? Don't they watch television? They should know Kadhafi's time is over?" said Agraw Assiny, 23.
Another rebel called Mohamed said it was like the early days of the revolt, with disorganised fighters dressed in shorts coming up against an experienced and determined foe.
Even when more arms and men appeared there was a traffic jam as fighters from Zintan insisted on going first, only to be resisted by other rebels from Zuwarah and Zawiyah, and shots were fired in the air.
"They want to go first so they can take the vehicles, the weapons, the ammunition for themselves," said Nizar Ali, 31, bitterly. "They want to steal -- they've done it before."

Sunday, August 28th 2011

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