Gaddafi tries to influence Libyans while his forces kill 10 in town near capital

AFP , Thursday 24 Feb 2011

Libya state TV calls some protesters 'terrorists' yet Gaddafi’s forces attack and kill ten protesters in Az-Zawaiyah and another three cities

Ten people were killed on Thursday and dozens more wounded when pro-government forces attacked the rebellious Libyan town of Az-Zawiyah, only 50km from the capital, a newspaper reported.

Az-Zawiya is a crowded, middle-class town home to a number of pro-Gaddafi military officers and the site of Libya's biggest oil refinery. Al Jazeera news agency stated there were fierce clashes between pro- and anti-government forces for control of the key town.

As the battle to unseat Gadaffi encircles the capital, the Libyan president addresses the elders of Az-Zawiyah via television, where he accuses a drug-crazed mob of youths spurred by Al-Qaeda of killing four policemen.

The state news agency, Jana, reported it as three "terrorists" that attacked a security forces post in Az-Zawiyah and slit the throats of three policemen on Thursday, amid news of heavy fighting in the town.

Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, the embattled 68-year-old president and former colonel fretted about unrest in Az-Zawiyah and urged the elders to bring their children under control.

Al-Jazeera quoted witnesses as saying that an army unit led by Gaddafi ally, Naji Shifsha, had blasted the minaret of a mosque occupied by protesters in Az-Zawiyah.

Witnesses also told the Qatar-based station that pro-Gaddafi forces had attacked another three cities, including Sabratha, which lies between Az-Zawiyah and the capital; and Misurata at 200km east - and Sabha 650km inland from Tripoli.

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