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Libyan rebels seize key border post
As fighters consolidate their control, the UN says security remained a major concern with fears of reprisal attacks.
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2011 06:22

Libyan rebels have defeated Gaddafi loyalists in skirmishes over a key border checkpoint with Tunisia, opening up a vital supply route into the war-ravaged country.

Gaining control of the Ras Ajdir crossing will allow rebels to channel fresh supplies and aid to Tripoli, amid fears of a developing humanitarian crisis in the Libyan capital.

A Tunisian official said loyalists had fled as more than 100 rebels arrived. "There were not any real clashes; the loyalists took off and the rebels' flag was raised at the border post," the AFP news agency quoted the official as saying.

Al Jazeera's Sue Turton, reporting from Tripoli on Saturday, said the capture was an "incredibly important" gain for the rebels.

"It shows that they are managing to get rid of what is left of Gaddafi troops in that area, but more importantly it opens a supply route now totally across from the west into Tripoli," she said.

In the capital, rebels were consolidating their control on Saturday, but the United Nations said security remained a key concern, with fears of reprisal attacks in a country now awash with small arms.

Al Jazeera's Turton said the rebels' main focus now in central Tripoli is to clear out any pro-Gaddafi loyalists that may still be hiding.

"There is obviously still tension southeast of the city; down near the airport they are still being bombed by Gaddafi loyalists further out east from the city," she said.

Elsewhere in Libya, rebels claimed victory in Bin Jawad.

Reporting from the city, Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland said: "If, in fact, it is proven that the rebels are able to hold the town of Bin Jawad, then certainly they will have removed a major obstacle on the way to Sirte."

Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, is considered the last remaining bastion of support for the man whose decades-long rule of Libya is effectively over.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), said at a news conference on Saturday that rebel commanders were negotiating with Gaddafi loyalists in Bin Jawad to try to persuade them to surrender control over the city.

Security concerns

In the capital, rebels were consolidating their control on Saturday, but the United Nations said security remained a key concern, with fears of reprisal attacks in a country now awash with small arms.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, also called on the international community to work together to restore order in Libya and for the fighting to end.

Following a UN meeting in New York, Ban said there was a "urgent need to put an end to the conflict and restore order and stability".

Meanwhile, the search for Gaddafi continued, days after the rebels offered a reward to anyone who kills or captures the 69-year-old.

Humanitarian crisis

The nearly week-long fighting in Tripoli has triggered a humanitarian crisis, with hospitals struggling to cope with the flood of wounded as supplies run scarce.

"Many of the residents in Tripoli have now run out of water, they need electricity to pump the water around the city and the electricity pumps have been hit," Al Jazeera's Turton reported on Saturday.

Tripoli faces severe water shortage

The putrefying bodies of around 80 people were found in a hospital a day earlier, apparently the unlucky victims of fighting that prevented the wounded from being treated, reported AFP news agency.

Doctors at the hospital in Abu Salim said snipers loyal to Gaddafi kept new patients and health care workers away from the facility.

A lack of supplies, nurses and surgeons has contributed to the difficulties in dealing with the injured.

"There is no more medicine in the hospital, no more medical personnel. They all left for fear of the snipers," said medical-student-turned-nurse Mohammed Yunis.

The city is suffering from widespread shortage of water, food, medical supplies and fuel.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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