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Libyan government forces make another push for embattled Misrata

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 29, 2011 4:25 p.m. EDT

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Libyan government forces seeking to re-enter the embattled port city of Misrata Friday killed at least nine people and wounded 30 others, a doctor who is a member of the medical committee in the city said.

“There is an indiscriminate shelling now in Misrata,” he said.

Four tanks from forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were shelling the city with rockets and mortars from the southwest, he said.

Rebel forces were engaging government forces at the gate in the Algeran district site, which is on the city outskirts, a Libyan dissident said.

Meanwhile, Libyan state television warned that any ship attempting to enter the Misrata port would be attacked. State television announced any aid going into Misrata must be delivered by land under the supervision of the Libyan military.

Libyan state TV also announced that the Libyan military has successfully suppressed the operations of the port.

Bittersweet victory for Misrata rebels

Libyan city looks like a wasteland

Training to defend Gadhafi

Friday’s attack came a day after shelling in Misrata killed 10 people, including two women and a 13-year-old girl, a spokesman for the rebels said.

Gadhafi forces had dismantled rocket launchers so they would escape detection by NATO forces, and then reassembled them in the city for use in attacking civilians, the spokesman said.

“We have reports that Gadhafi troops are loading fish boats with weapons in Tripoli and may be coming to Misrata,” he said.

Misrata, the third-largest city in the North African country, has been hemmed in on three sides by Gadhafi’s forces. Apparently, Gadhafi was also trying to gain control of the port, which has served as a lifeline for the rebels.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, spokesman Brigadier Rob Weighill told reporters that NATO stopped pro-Gadhafi forces aboard small boats Friday who were laying anti-ship mines in the harbor. Having intercepted the boats, NATO warships were in the process of disarming and clearing the mines that had been laid, he said.

Though rebels said they had gained control of the city’s center and had pushed government forces outside the city, they said Gadhafi’s forces were continuing to attack Misrata with heavy weaponry.

A senior rebel member, Omar al-Jernazi, told CNN that rebels “took complete control” Friday of the Wazin area on the Tunisian-Libyan border after forcing 15 Gadhafi forces to flee to the Tunisian side.

Eight Gadhafi forces and one rebel soldier were wounded in the incident, he said.

After Gadhafi’s forces entered, the Tunisian army allowed them to return with their weapons back into Libya via a separate border crossing, the rebel said.

Sporadic clashes were continuing, he said.

Meanwhile, thousands more Libyans fled to Tunisia, stirring further concerns about a humanitarian crisis there, according to Tunisia’s state-run news agency TAP, which cited Tunisian security sources. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees set up more tents in the Remada refugee camp, it noted.

NATO is leading an international military operation in Libya that includes airstrikes targeting Gadhafi’s military resources. It is operating under a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing any means necessary — with the exception of foreign occupation — to protect civilians

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