March 1st, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Gadhafi's regime cites key towns in effort to regain control

CNN Wire Staff

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi tried to retake a town near the capital that is under opposition control but were repelled, an opposition leader in the town told CNN Tuesday.

The source said pro-Gadhafi troops with tanks and anti-aircraft guns attacked Zawiya from east and west at nightfall Monday, but did not capture the town.

A senior official in Gadhafi's regime denied that government forces attacked rebels in Zawiya.

Senior members of the government told CNN that Zawiya and Misrata are key to their effort to regain control of the country. The officials insisted they want a peaceful resolution, but witnesses have described repeated violent efforts by the regime to regain control of areas Gadhafi has lost.

Meanwhile, more parts of the regime have broken off, joining calls for Gadhafi to halt the violence. In London, the Libyan Embassy said it was siding with the opposition, condemning what it called "all acts of murder and terror" taking place in Libya.

Zawiya was calm Tuesday, but Gadhafi's troops remained nearby, the opposition leader and another source in the town said. CNN is not naming them to protect their safety.

Misrata was protected by its residents and military defectors and the situation there on Tuesday was stable, said Abd al Baset Imzeereq, who identified himself as the spokesman for the newly formed city council.

Pro-Gadhafi forces are stationed in the Navy college about 15 kilometers (nine miles) outside the city and have not attempted to move into the city center since its fall, he said.

The forces appear to be stationed there not to try to retake the city, but to protect the ammunition depot in the college and "to terrorize the people" by opening fire on them.

At least two farmers were killed Monday when these forces shot at their vehicle, Imzeereq said.

Still, some semblance of normalcy was visible Tuesday, when some banks had reopened in Misrata and people were able to withdraw money or get loans, he said.

Food supplies were ample, he said, but medical goods were scarce.

Imzeereq said at least 33 have been killed and another 487 wounded in Misrata since the unrest began.

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