Middle East

Libya rebels report loss of Qatrun

BENGHAZI, Libya: Libyan rebel fighters have lost control of the southwestern oasis town of Qatrun after an attack by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, a member of the local Toubou tribe told AFP on Saturday.

Gadhafi's troops swept in from the north on Thursday, forcing rebel fighters from the town, according to Mohammed Lino, who relayed information gleaned via satellite phone, said in Benghazi.

At least two people are thought to have been killed and eight wounded in the attack.

The lack of transport links to the southwest, patchy telecommunications and poor security make independent verification of the claim impossible.

But Lino said Gadhafi's forces had been camped on the north side of the town and rebels in the south, with an estimated 20,000 civilians trapped between the two.

It is not clear if the town has since been taken.

Toubou tribesmen had earlier reported capturing the town on July 17. A delegation is now in Benghazi to ask for supplies and assistance.

Qatrun is 1,000 kilometers south of Tripoli.

Gadhafi's forces had tried to retake the town on at least three occasions before Thursday.

"We have been attacked twice in the past week by Gadhafi's army," said Mohammed Sidi, a Toubou tribal leader said earlier this week.

One attack, he said, involved as many as 150 4X4 vehicles. In repelling the attacks, one person was killed and eight wounded.





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