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Key Libyan oil refinery seized by rebels

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Key Libyan oil refinery seized by rebels

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Libyan rebels seized the country’s only working oil refinery on Thursday in what has been described as a symbolically important move.

Nine people were killed and at least 45 were injured during the battle for the refinery, located in the city of Zawiyah, 50 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli.

The rebels also took control of the city of Sabratha, on the main highway to Tunisia. If they can secure the town, it would tighten their control of fuel from across the border.

It would also mean the rebels would have Tripoli surrounded by land, with NATO blocking access to the sea.

The rebel gains led Prime Minister al Baghdadi Mahmoudi to call for a ceasefire on Thursday. He told journalists that Tripoli wants a political solution to the civil war.

His call comes after new rumours surfaced that Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi may leave for Venezuela soon. It is reported that two planes have landed in Tripoli to take Gaddafi and his family to central America. Some sources claim the dictator is ill and requires urgent medical treatment.