April 25th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Witnesses: Libyan government forces shelling civilian areas of Misrata

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Libyan government forces directed their assault Monday on civilian areas of Misrata, resulting in a number of civilian casualties, witnesses said.

"It's just hell," said Marie Colvin, a foreign affairs correspondent for the Sunday Times of London, who has been in the city for a week. "Civilian neighborhoods are being decimated as we speak." She said that at least 10 people had been killed and at least 30 others wounded.

But figures were difficult to confirm; CNN was not in the city.

A resident of Misrata who asked to be identified only as Mohammed said Monday that six people were killed in the morning.

A doctor at a hospital in Misrata put the number of dead Sunday at 16, with 71 wounded.

The indiscriminate shelling began after rebel forces routed forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi from the city center early Sunday, Colvin said. The rout came after rebels moved from building to building along Tripoli Street, the main boulevard, ousting government forces, she said. Twenty-five rebels were killed in one day, and an undetermined number of Gadhafi soldiers were killed, she said.

Asked about the rebel army, she laughed. "We're talking about an army of shopkeepers, engineers, car mechanics," she said. "Very, very few trained military."

At the fruit and vegetable market, government tanks that had been hidden under loading bays were set afire over the weekend. Their position there underscored the difficulty of NATO airstrikes in discriminating between government forces and civilians.

Since then, stationed on the city's edge, government forces have been firing shells randomly into residential neighborhoods of the city, she said.

"It's a free-fire zone on civilians," she said from the hospital, where she said she had seen casualties that ranged "from loss of limbs to an 8-year-old boy struck in the ankle by shrapnel. He'll keep the foot, but he was in bad shape."

Outside, a white tent served as a triage area; a refrigerator truck was packed with bodies.

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