Witnesses said on Saturday that Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi's army attacked rebel forces and protesters in a town just 30 miles west of Tripoli.

This town is under siege basically, said Alex Crawford of Sky News radio, reporting from Zawiyah. It's been encircled by the army.

She said at around 9:30 a.m. local time that rebels, who are calling themselves freedom fighters, attempted to take on the Gaddafi army.

She said that there had been thousands of protesters in the streets being led by a rebel in a military vehicle which had anti-aircraft machinery.

As they approached, the Army opened fire, sparking a stampede of people running away. The army fired on them repeatedly. Even ambulances attempting to help were fired upon, she said.

Later at a local hospital, she said saw dozens and dozens and dozens of people injured including at least two children under five years of age. Many had bullet wounds, but the children didn't she said.

One person had his entire back pattered with bullet holes, she said, adding she thought it was unlikely he would survive.

Earlier in the day, at six in the morning local time, rebel spokesman Youssef Shagan told Reuters hundreds of government backed soldiers with tanks had entered a central square in the town.

The rebels include defected army forces armed with tanks, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, according to the Associated Press.

The Gaddafi-backed forces had similar weaponry, according to the report.

Witnesses told AP that youths from the town were on the roofs of high-rise buildings monitoring movements of pro-Gaddafi forces and alerting others if they thought an attack was imminent.