3 Mar 2011

Libyan troops lose battle over eastern town - report

12:49 pm on 3 March 2011

Rebel forces have reportedly fought off an attempt by soldiers loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to retake the eastern oil town of Brega.

Gaddafi forces had moved into eastern areas for the first time since towns there fell to protesters two weeks ago, the BBC reports.

A BBC correspondent says Brega seems clear of loyalist troops.

Brega is close to Ajdabiya, the largest town near the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

The BBC is reporting that Government jets have also bombed an arms dump in Ajdabiya.

In two weeks of unrest Colonel Gaddafi has lost control of large parts of Libya.

In Tripoli, Colonel Gaddafi has again blamed foreign media and Al-Qaeda for the uprising, saying it is a plot to control the country and its oil resources.

In an address broadcast on state television, he said terrorists were wreaking havoc in Libya, raping women and seeking sanctuary inside mosques.

He asked the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to his country to investigate.

Colonel Gaddafi repeated his statement that he has no real power and therefore cannot resign.

The violence in Libya has led to a major humanitarian crisis on the Tunisian border, with tens of thousands of people stranded and waiting to get out.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, says all New Zealanders who wanted to leave Libya have left, with the help of the British, Irish, US and Canadian governments.