Libyan rebels and Gaddafi claim gains

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Libyan rebels and Gaddafi claim gains

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After a Friday where prayers took second place to hard-fought battles, both pro and anti-Gaddafi factions are claiming gains in Libya.

The rebels say they have taken the coastal oil town of Ras Lanuf. But casualties are said to be high and an army arsenal was destroyed. It is unclear whether it was hit during aerial bombarments or blown up accidentally.

Meanwhile Muammar Gaddafi has formally requested United Nations sanctions against him be halted, insisting he has used “minimal” force against protesters.

If he has lost ground to the east, he looks to have gained to the west, claiming to have retaken Zawiyah close to the capital Tripoli.

His forces used grenade-launchers, machine guns and snipers to drive opponents back in bloody fighting.

But late into the night rebels said they still held the central Martyrs Square.

In Tripoli, government forces moved in quickly to break up a crowd of protesters that had formed at the end of prayers.

Later several hundred people attended a pro-Gaddafi rally in Green Square.