Fighting erupts in Tripoli, three killed: NTC

Fighting erupts in Tripoli, three killed: NTC

Pro-Gaddafi gunmen took on fighters loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Abu Salim, a district around 10 kilometres (six miles) south of the city centre known to harbour supporters of the former Libyan leader.

Tripoli security official Abdelrazaq al-Aradi said that two Gaddafi loyalists and one NTC fighter were killed in the clashed while another 30 people were wounded.

Aradi, vice president of the security committee in the Libyan capital, told a news conference that around 50 armed Gaddafi supporters were behind the violence, 27 of whom, including four "African mercenaries," were subsequently arrested.

It was the first fighting in the Libyan capital since it fell to anti-Gaddafi forces in August, and comes at a key moment in the eight-month conflict.

The new regime is hoping to proclaim the country's liberation in the coming days, and prepare for the transition to an elected government, when NTC forces capture Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte where diehard loyalists are making a determined last stand.

Forces from Libya's new regime launched a fierce assault on two areas of Gaddafi's hometown yesterday.

At least four people were killed and 46 wounded in yesterday's fighting in Sirte, said Abdulsalam Abdelkani, a medic at a field hospital in the east of the city.

An AFP correspondent said shortly before 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), a large column of NTC forces, some in trucks and some on foot, pushed out of the central police HQ toward loyalist positions in the Dollar and Number Two districts.

Huge plumes of thick black smoke billowed above both neighbourhoods amid an intense grenade and mortar bombardment and almost continuous machine gun fire.

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