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In Libyan Port Town, Rebels And Loyalists Clash

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Let's get an update now from Libya, where we have word of additional fighting between government forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and rebels, who have captured the eastern part of the country. The area in between is being contested, and that includes a town called Brega, where we've found NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.

LOURDES GARCIA: So far we hear there are at least four killed and eleven wounded and the fighting has been going on fiercely around the university for quite some time. Eyewitnesses here tell me that the pro-democracy forces were really sort of outgunned. They're facing a professional army that's backed by Moammar Gadhafi, with very sophisticated weaponry. And I can tell you that the people that I'm seeing here are basically young men, some of them with Kalashnikovs - very little training - who basically say that they will for their country to be free. But they don't really have the formal training that it takes to fight an army.

INSKEEP: Is it your impression there in Brega that this has been house- to-house combat, or building-to-building combat?

GARCIA: Actually, the fighting's centered around two areas, the airport and the university. And to make it clear to you exactly what these pro-democracy forces were facing: They were not only facing sort of mortar fire and tank fire from the pro-Gadhafi troops, but aerial bombardment. And Gadhafi was essentially bombing his own people from overhead.

INSKEEP: If you're still in the town that suggests that the pro- democracy, the protesters still have control over at least some portion of Brega. Is that correct?

GARCIA: So, basically, we've seen fighting in certain areas but not in other areas. And the hospital, where I am now, we've seen wounded being brought in and they're being given triage and then they're being taken to areas and cities away from the fighting.

INSKEEP: Is there any central command to the protesters whom you say have come in from other cities and towns?

GARCIA: And that's exactly what we saw. We saw hundreds of them - in pickup trucks, in cars, carrying any kind of weapon they could get their hands on. Basically driving pell-mell down the street to come reinforce pro- democracy protesters here.

INSKEEP: Is there any heavy weaponry with the rebels there in Brega where you are?

GARCIA: Sorry, there's some shooting going on. Now we are at the hospital that there have been some sporadic gunfire. It's not really clear where it's coming from but we've been hearing it intermittently throughout the day.

INSKEEP: All right. Well, Lourdes, I want you to take care of yourself. And we will check back in with you as you learn more.

GARCIA: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is in Brega, a town in Eastern Libya, where government forces have been fighting with rebels. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.