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NTC fighter killed, family car destroyed fleeing Sirte

A Libyan commander says an NTC fighter was killed and a packed family car destroyed while helping residents flee Moamer Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte

AFP , Friday 23 Sep 2011

A fighter from Libya's interim government helping residents flee Moamer Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte was killed on Friday and a packed family car destroyed when pro-Gaddafi forces opened fire on their convoy, a commander said.

"We were escorting families out and the convoy came under fire" from anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, Osama Muttawa Swehly told AFP.

"One fighter was killed and one family car was destroyed," with all its unknown number of occupants presumably killed as well, he said.

The incident occurred at a roundabout on the western edge of Sirte that is the frontline for forces of the National Transitional Council, whose assault on the city is on hold for the time being.

Asked why the NTC was delaying, Swehly said "we're trying to get the families out. We are averaging between 400 to 500 cars a day. "We are basically trying to starve (the Gaddafi forces out."

He said reports from inside the city are that there is no electricity, the water is cut off, shops are closed and people are running out of food.

"We are giving the families every chance to get out. Once that stream turns into a trickle then stops, then it will be time to act. We don't want victory at any cost."

There are other reasons for fleeing the city.

Malik Mohammed Ferjani turned up with his extended family of about 40 people in a seven-car convoy, saying he was on a hit list prepared by Gaddafi diehards.

"People are being executed by Gaddafi soldiers," Ferjani said. "Gaddafi soldiers have a list of 500 names; my name is on that list."

The family decided to flee "after they fired three rockets at my house this morning," he said.

He was speaking at a field hospital 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Sirte, where NTC officials were searching cars coming from the city before allowing them on their way.

The officials said that, by midday, 385 people had come through.

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