Libyan Rebels Tighten Grip on Tuarga


Rebels fighting east of Tripoli said they strengthened their grip on the town of Tuarga on Saturday, in a bid to create a buffer zone between Moammar Gadhafi's forces and the city of Misrata.

On the third day of an offensive, rebels from the port enclave of Misrata said they routed all but the last remaining pockets of resistance from loyalist forces.

Two fighters died and 15 were wounded as they closed in on the last sniper and pro-Gadhafi artillery positions in the town, the rebels said.

The bodies of at least four Gadhafi loyalists were seen at a field hospital near the town's northern entrance, although the death toll for government forces was thought to be much higher.

Journalists were refused access to the eastern part of the town where most of the fighting took place on Friday, with reports that the rebels were in complete control of Tuarga not verifiable.

Streams of jubilant rebel fighters were seen travelling back toward Misrata, some with pickup trucks full of goods.

Looting was seen earlier in the offensive, despite a swathe of rebel checkpoints between Tuarga and Misrata.