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LIBYA: Kadafi forces try to regain control of Libya's east

March 2, 2011 |  7:59 am

The status of Port Brega, home to a key oil facility in Libya's east, was unclear Wednesday as some news reports indicated that forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi had briefly captured the town, while other news sources reported that anti-government fighters had managed to repel the attack and regain control. 

Bloomberg News, quoting Benghazi-based Yosberides newspaper, said five people had been killed in an airstrike on Port Brega, which is located about 500 miles east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The report could not be independently confirmed.

As government forces battled to capture other towns close to Tripoli, the Libayn leader remained defiant.

“We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people,” Kadafi told a gathering in Tripoli. The address was televised live on Libyan television, according to Reuters and other news agencies.

Tripoli appeared to remain firmly under Kadafi’s control.

Anonymous tweets posted Wednesday by Feb. 17 Voices, which states its mission as “reaching into Libya, tweeting and relaying Libyan voices in real time,” painted an ominous picture of life in the Libyan capital.

One writer tweeted that the cost of food was going up and food shortages were possible. Others reported that “no-one is working," and “no-one goes outside after sunset prayer for fear [of] snipers or mercenaries.”

"We NEED a no fly zone to end this,” another tweet said. “I swear once there is a no fly zone all east & west will invade Tripoli."

According to various news reports, some anti-government fighters are seeking foreign military help, but others are reluctant to have outside involvement, given the disorder and bloodletting that followed Western intervention into Iraq.

In Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and an anti-Kadafi stronghold, the mood appeared a little more upbeat.

"Things are starting to get back to normal here, people [are] beginning to go back to work and opening shops,” one person tweeted.

There were reports of people still gathering every day and protesting outside the courthouse. One tweet spoke about “a lot of volunteers protecting the city and surrounding region.”

The English version of the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera reported that on-duty and retired officers from the Libyan army were giving anti-government protesters crash courses in how to operate guns and larger heavy weapons in an effort to prepare for any possible clash with Kadafi's forces.

Related: Kadafi loyalists, rebels fight for control of Libyan oil facility


-- Ann M. Simmons