Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi were yesterday said to be launching fierce counter-attacks as the Libyan uprising edged closer to the capital and the dictator chose to blame Osama bin Laden and teenagers on hallucinogenic drugs for the rebellion.
Amid ominous descriptions of groups of pro-Gaddafi militia men gathering on the roads around Tripoli, there were reports that the minaret of a mosque in Zawiya — 30 miles west of Tripoli, where protesters had claimed victory — was being pounded by heavy weapons. Troops were said to be filling the streets of Sabratha, 50 miles to the west of the capital.
A Libyan newspaper reported that in Zawiya, 10 people had been killed and a witness told the BBC that pro-Gaddafi forces had used machine-guns on unarmed |residents in a square of the city. A doctor in Sabratha told The New York Times that after several days of a government crackdown, gunshots had sounded as troops occupied the town.