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March 9th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Fighting rages for control of Libyan cities

CNN Wire Staff

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Fierce battles raged Tuesday for control of key Libyan cities in the east and west as Libya entered its fourth week of fighting and continued its descent into civil war.

In the eastern oil city of Ras Lanuf, rebels fired antiaircraft guns after Libya's air force carried out fresh raids.

Video shot by Sky News showed that fighting was continuing in Zawiya, despite government assertions that forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi controlled the oil-refining city. Hundreds of anti-government demonstrators could be seen marching in the street, many of them pumping their fists in the air. As the crackle of gunfire could be heard, the demonstrators ran toward the camera. Four men could be seen carrying a fifth, then putting him into an ambulance.

A doctor who left the city in the morning told CNN that Gadhafi forces had fatally shot two fellow doctors in the main square and were shooting wounded civilians rather than allowing them to be treated. The city's two medical clinics were closed, he said.

Military casualties were being taken from the city by ambulance, he said.

CNN was not able to witness the fighting and could not independently confirm reports of what was happening there on Tuesday.

Opposition officials accused Gadhafi of bombing water reserves in Ras Lanuf, the site of intense fighting in recent days.

Rebels have seized several cities and the army has fought fiercely to reclaim some of them.

On Tuesday, Gadhafi addressed a tribal group of youthful supporters in a talk broadcast on television and repeated his assertions that the nation's youths have been misled and drugged by al Qaeda.

"For them, everybody's their enemy," he said. "They know nothing other than killing."

He praised the Libyan standard of living as one that others in the world envy and called on his countrymen to defend it. "They want to take your petrol," he said. "This is what America, this is what the French, those colonialists, want."

He cited people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Algeria as among those who have joined the rebel forces - "hunting children who are not mature, who have certain deficiencies; they offer them pills. This is what we understood so far."

He called anti-government forces in Benghazi, a rebel-held town in the east, "traitors" and predicted that the pro-Gadhafi residents "are going to throw them out."

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