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Rescued Libyans detail attacks

Rescued Libyans detail attacks

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By BEN HUBBARD

Associated Press

BENGHAZI, Libya -- From makeshift beds inside a cruise-ship-turned-hospital, wounded residents of a besieged Libyan city told Sunday of daily shelling, looting and sniping by Moammar Gadhafi's forces and called for the end of the Libyan ruler's 42-year reign.

The ship, carrying hundreds from Misrata to Turkey for care, made a brief stop in Benghazi, where rebel youth gathered on the dock to welcome them and seek news from an embattled city that has been largely cut off from the world for weeks.

Dozens of men, many nursing gunshot wounds and missing limbs, lay on thin mats in the ship's hull, speaking of brutal government attacks and young rebels struggling to fend them off.

Mohammed Abu Libous, 37, said he and seven relatives were working in a bakery on the outskirts of Misrata, rebel forces' last major stronghold in western Libya, when about 20 Gadhafi troops entered in three tanks and started harassing local residents.

They entered his shop and told him and his brother to surrender their weapons. When they said they had none, the troops shot his brother through the stomach and him once in each thigh, he said.

"While I was on the ground bleeding, they bound the others and took them away," he said, adding that the troops stole their money, cell phones and rings.

While the eastern half of Libya fell quickly under rebel control, Misrata was one of two western cities that rose up early in the revolt against Gadhafi. His elite forces besieged Misrata for weeks, cutting off food and water supplies and power lines, but the rebels have stood their ground.

Ali Davutoglu, the Turkish consul general in Benghazi, said the ship Ankara had brought 230 passengers from Misrata and was picking up another 100 from Benghazi before sailing to the Turkish port of Cesme.

Mohammed Bashir, a 41-year-old prosecutor whose left leg was reduced to a stump, said Gadhafi's forces shelled the city from three sides with tank rounds and mortars. Then snipers in civilian clothing deployed on rooftops in the downtown area where he lives with his wife and three children.

"They shoot at anyone who goes out, even those with children," he said.

So he moved his family to his in-laws' house elsewhere, he said, where they were sitting on March 25 when a large blast outside that he guessed was a mortar shattered the building's windows.

The neighbors gathered at the blast site and two other mortars fell nearby. He was dashing behind the building, he said, when one fell near him.He passed out. The next day, his left leg was gone.

He wanted the international community to intervene and oust Gadhafi.

"The world has said he is no longer a legitimate ruler," he said. "Now it needs to come get rid of him."

Of the popular uprisings across the Arab world inspired by those in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya's has been the most violent. Gadhafi's forces were poised to overwhelm rebel forces before a campaign of international airstrikes began March 19.

While Gadhafi quickly quashed demonstrations in the capital city Tripoli, residents of many other cities armed themselves to fight off his well armed militias.

Rebels now hold much of the country's east, where they have created a provisional government in Benghazi and are working to improve training and coordination of their forces to pursue Gadhafi's ouster by force of arms.

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