Libyan Forces Try to Stop Rebel Advance Toward Capital

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Today's fighting in Libya could signal a new phase in the battle to oust longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Helicopter gunships strafed opposition fighters as forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi pounded them with artillery and rockets, dramatically escalating a counteroffensive against rebels advancing
on the capital.

After securing control of two important oil ports (at Brega and
Ras Lanouf), rebels reached a town (Bin Jawwad) about 110 miles
east of Gadhafi's hometown last night before pulling back.

Pro-Gadhafi forces moved into the town overnight and surprised the
rebels at daybreak, triggering battles that raged throughout the

The rebel-controlled city of Misrata, 120 miles east of Tripoli, has also seen heavy fighting. A doctor there tells The Associated Press that 20 people have been killed and 100 wounded.

Residents say pro-Gadhafi troops punched into the city with mortars and tanks but were pushed out five hours later by rebel forces.

Hundreds and perhaps thousands have died since Libya's uprising
began in mid-February, though tight media restrictions make it
nearly impossible to get an accurate tally.

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