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RAF blasts Sirte, tribal bastion of the elusive Gaddafi

British warplanes struck a large bunker in Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, his largest remaining stronghold, as Nato focused on loyalist forces trying to hold back advancing rebels.

The air strikes came a day after fierce clashes erupted in the Libyan capital, which remained tense as rebels hunted for the elusive leader and his allies, detaining suspected loyalists and raising concerns about human rights violations.

Rebels were searching for the remnants of pro-Gaddafi forces in Tripoli's Abu Salim neighbourhood, which saw very heavy fighting the day before.

The rebels had detained seven men and one woman and loaded them into a pickup truck in a rural area between Abu Salim and the airport, saying Gaddafi forces might be trying to blend in with civilians.

"Things are still not stable and we are arresting anybody we find suspicious and taking them to the military council," said field commander Fathi Shneibi.

Meanwhile, at a clinic attached to an Abu Salim fire station, injured men believed to be Gaddafi supporters or fighters were left moaning and calling for water.

Curious neighbourhood men climbed the stairs to look at them, but none offered help.

One of the wounded said he was from Niger and denied any links to Gaddafi. Asked why he was in Libya, he said: "I really don't know."

Signs also emerged that the situation can turn far worse.

Dozens of decomposing bodies were piled up in an abandoned Abu Salim hospital, a grim testament to the chaos in the capital.

It was not clear when the men had been killed. The floors were covered with shattered glass and bloodstains, and medical equipment was strewn about.

One room had 21 bodies lying on stretchers, with 20 more in a courtyard next to the car park - all of them darker skinned than most Libyans.

Gaddafi had recruited fighters from sub-Saharan Africa, but many others from the region are in Libya as migrant workers.

It was not clear who had killed the men, but since the uprising began the rebels often suspect sub-Saharan Africans of being mercenaries.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was concerned about the treatment of detainees on both sides in Tripoli.

The Geneva-based ICRC has been able to visit some prisoners on both sides.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph