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Security Forces Stop Protests in Libyan Capital

VOA News February 28, 2011

Security forces have dispersed several hundred protesters in Libya's capital, Tripoli, as opposition and government forces continue to fight for control over the country.

Witnesses Monday said protesters gathered in Tripoli's Tajouri district and shouted slogans against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Pro-Gadhafi forces rushed to the scene to break up the protests. The Reuters news agency reported that security forces fired shots into the air.

Opposition protesters backed by defecting army units have taken control of all of eastern Libya and parts of the west since launching an uprising earlier this month to end Mr. Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

In Misrata, about 200 kilometers east of Tripoli, witnesses said skirmishes raged throughout the night between rebel forces and those loyal to Mr. Gadhafi.

Residents of the western city of Zawiya were bracing Monday for a possible counter-attack by 2,000 pro-Gadhafi troops who they said had surrounded the city. Zawiya is located 50 kilometers west of the capital, Tripoli - Mr. Gadhafi's last major stronghold.

Western journalists in Zawiya found the city firmly in rebel hands Sunday, with defecting military officers displaying army tanks and anti-aircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks ready for the expected counter-attack. The reporters said hundreds of residents also gathered and chanted anti-Gadhafi slogans in the city center.

France says it is flying medical aid to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi in what it calls the start of a "massive" operation to support opposition forces trying to topple Mr. Gadhafi.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said two planes were due to leave for Benghazi Monday, carrying doctors, nurses, medicine and medical equipment for the Libyan people in what he described as "liberated" areas.



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