At least thirty civilians have been killed in the western city of Az Zawiyah after soldiers loyal to Moammar Gaddafi tried to seize control of the rebel-dominated town, which is near the capitol of Tripoli.
I have been to hospital less than 15 minutes ago. Dozens were killed and more were wounded, a Zawiyah resident told Reuters.We have counted 30 dead civilians. The hospital was full. They could not find space for the casualties. We receive updates from the hospital and they say the number of casualties is rising.
Another resident said up to 50 people had been killed in the fighting.
While much of the eastern parts of the country are in the hands of protesters, Gaddafi-backed forces are seeking to drive them out of the west. Az Zawiyah, which is home to an important oil refinery, was the closest area to Tripoli that had fallen into rebel control.
Al Jazeera's reported that source in the Libyan government informed her that Az Zawiyah has been retaken by government forces. The state TV has reported the same thing.
A rebel leader in Az Zawiyah told Reuters that many people were killed in Harsha [a small nearby town], which is now occupied by them, They shot at civilians. We still control [Az Zawiyah's] central square. They are four to five kilometers away. Our army commander has been killed in Harsha. We have appointed a new one.
There were also reports of renewed violence in other parts of Libya, including accounts of heavy shelling and machine gun fire has been reported near Ras Lanuf, an eastern oil port. Reuters reported that rebels fired mortar bombs and rockets at a military base there and was met with artillery fire from the army.
There are lots of flames, thuds and bangs. There is the wailing of sirens and puffs of smoke in the air, Reuters said.