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Benghazi revels in freedom but fears shortages

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Benghazi revels in freedom but fears shortages


The eastern Libyan city of Benghazi is still caught in the grip of a kind of delirious disbelief, more than a week after anti-Gaddafi rebels took control.

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Children posed for photos alongside tanks and pre-Gaddafi Libyan flags.

Neither the young nor their parents have ever known anything other than the dictator’s rule.

The sense of freedom is intoxicating.

But new challenges are already making themselves felt. The unrest is disrupting supplies of food, medicine and other goods.

There are fears that soon, eastern Libya will face serious shortages.

Many shops are closed; others that are open have tinned and non-perishable items but lack fresh produce.

The fear of attack from Gaddafi’s forces remains. On Monday two munitions depots were reportedly bombed, although the authorities in Tripoli denied it.

Rebels are preparing anti-aircraft defences and trying to build an army from volunteers and troops who have defected.

They have little ammunition, their equipment is old and outdated and the fighters poorly trained.

“These people are coming here to help our country become free and they want to defend our land. They will learn how to fight and use weapons to go to liberate Tripoli,” said one anti-government fighter as he trained a group of volunteers.

The men then broke out into chants of “Libya free! Down with Gaddafi!”

Clearly, their ambition extends beyond the defence of Benghazi.

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