Wounded Libyan rebel vows to march on Tripoli

AFP , Saturday 5 Mar 2011

Wounded in fighting for the key oil town of Ras Lanuf, Libyan rebel Usama Ahmed vowed Saturday from his hospital bed that once he is recovered he will march on the capital Tripoli to oust Muamer Gaddafi

An anti-government demonstrator who was injured after being shot by pro-Libyan leaders in recent clashes receives treatment at a hospital in Benghazi, Libya, 25 February 2011. (Reuters)

Ahmed, 28, from Shahad in rebel-held eastern Libya, was one of 21 casualties evacuated with wounds from the battle for Ras Lanuf on Friday and taken to hospital in Ajdabiya, 200 kilometres (125 miles) along the coast.

Eight bodies were also brought to the hospital, Dr Ahmed Burtima said, after rag-tag rebel infantry forces armed mainly with Kalashnikov assault rifles engaged Kadhafi troops firing rockets and other heavy weaponry.

The rebels had rushed westwards towards Ras Lanuf aboard vans, trucks, taxis and private cars, accompanied by ambulances to ferry back the wounded and some mobile anti-aircraft batteries and other light artillery.

By evening they claimed to be totally in control of the town, along with its oil refinery and military barracks.

"We headed for Ras Lanuf in the afternoon. We were with people from other towns in the east, including Tobruk, Derna and Al Baida", Ahmed told an AFP reporter as he sat on his bed.

"On the way, before Ras Lanuf, we ran into Kadhafi's forces. There was fighting and we took some prisoners," he said.

"Further on, about five kilometres from Ras Lanuf, we were attacked by aircraft and strong Kadhafi forces appeared," he added. "They were heavily armed, but we mainly just had Kalashnikovs."

"We fired our weapons but Kadhafi's forces were organised," Ahmed said, showing the bandage he wore on his lower chest where he had been wounded.

I was hit in the chest by an RPG. I lay on the roadside, then an ambulance took me to Brega (120 kilometres east of Ras Lanuf) and then to Ajdabya," he said.
"They told me afterwards that we reached Ras Lanuf and the flag of the revolution flies there now," Ahmed said proudly.

"At the moment I can't do it, but once I recover I will return to the front to advance on Tripoli."

Across the room where half-a-dozen casualties were being treated, Bashir Worshifani winced with pain from the effects of a machine-gun burst in the stomach.

"We were a kilometre from the airport when we met the Kadhafi troops. They greatly outnumbered us," the 30-year-old from the main rebel centre of Benghazi, Libya's second city, estimating the discrepancy at 10 to one.

"That's where they fired their machine-guns."

The rebels struck at Ras Lanuf only two days after an attempt by government forces to recapture Brega, the other strategic oil port on Libya's eastern coast.
Government officials denied it had been captured, or that Brega was firmly in rebel hands, saying fighting was still going on there.

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