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Libya

Fighting in Tripoli Sunday morning

Reuters/Jacky Naegelen
3 min

Fighting was reported in Tripoli on Sunday morning as Libya’s opposition attempts to seize the capital. After explosions and gunfire overnight, Moamer Kadhafi claimed to have beaten off a rebel assault but residents reported continued clashes.

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"Those rats [...] were attacked by the masses tonight and we eliminated them," Kadhafi said in an audio message broadcast over state television early on Sunday.

His son, Seif al-Islam, swore to “resist for six months, one year, two years”.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

Tripoli residents told the Reuters news agency there were anti-Kadhafi protesters in the streets overnight.

"We can hear shooting in different places," said one. "Most of the regions of the city have gone out, mostly young people.... it's the uprising... They went out after breaking the [Ramadan] fast."

The fighting comes after supporters of the National Transitional Council (NTC) captured the city of Zawiyah, 50 kilometres west of Tripoli, on Saturday.

The rebels have codenamed the Tripoli assault, which is coordinated with Nato, Operation Mermaid.

Former prime minister Abdessalem Jalloud, who defected Saturday, arrived in Italy Sunday.

He appealed to Kadhafi's tribe to turn against the leader and on the army to break ranks.

"I call on the army, the regiments, soldiers and officers to hand over their arms and go back to their homes or to join the ranks of the revolutionaries," he said. "When there is a conflict between a dictator and a people it is always the people who win."

Tunisia recognised the NTC Sunday, as the Kadhafi government declared it was ready to negotiate, while insisting that the rebels are out for revenge, not peace and justice.

A senior US official on Saturday said the opposition must prepare to take power soon, while Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Franco Frattini told Il Mattino newspaper, “Everything points to this tragedy coming to an end.”

Libya's top oil official, Omran Abukraa, arrived in Tunisia Saturday after deciding not to return to Tripoli from a trip to Italy, a Tunisian source told Reuters, marking the third high-profile defection reported in a week.

Tunisian security sources said their forces had intercepted Libyan armed men in vehicles and fought them through the night in the desert. They reported several casualties, but did not say whether the fighters were Libyan rebels or pro-Gaddafi soldiers cut off from Tripoli.

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