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In Sirte, Assault Seeking To Quell Loyalists Meets Fierce Resistance

In Libya, revolutionary fighters staged a full assault on Sirte early Friday, trying to subdue the town that now serves as a bastion for fighters loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. The coastal city, Gadhafi's hometown, was attacked from nearly all sides Friday, with many exchanges involving tanks, mortars, and rockets.

Fierce fighting was reportedly concentrated around the town's convention center, where loyalist fighters have holed up. And Zeina Khodr reports for Al Jazeera that it won't be easy to root them out, as "the loyalists holed up inside are putting up a fierce fight. It seems they will rather die than surrender."

Libya's new government has conducted a siege of Sirte for weeks now, but pro-Gadhafi forces in the town have repelled their attacks, using mortars and sniper fire. As the siege has worn on, a stream of civilians has been fleeing the city.

"We had to go today ... there is nothing left, no food, no gasoline," resident Ahmed Mohammed tells the AP.

From the AP:

At least eight revolutionary fighters were killed and 125 were wounded, doctors said. Ambulances sped down Sirte's main avenue to a field hospital set up in an abandoned villa five miles from the center. Doctors said a senior commander, Ali Saeh of the Free Libya Brigade, was injured, shot twice by a sniper as he led fighters through loyalist forces in a residential area.

"We are receiving many gunshot wounds, mostly to the head, neck and chest from sniper fire. We have received many injured today," Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Tantoun said Friday, adding he expects many more injured fighters to arrive through the day as fighting intensifies.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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