Libyan rebels lose hold of western town
BENGHAZI, Libya- Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi entered the western town of Zuwarah on Monday after clashes with rebels in which at least one person was killed, a witness said.
"Gathafi's militias and forces entered the town today. Youths were chanting peaceful slogans that they did not want any fighting but they came under fire," the resident, who took part in the demonstration, said.
"There was an exchange of gunfire. A young man of about 30 was killed and another lost a leg. There were other wounded," he said, asking not to be named.
"There is no more shooting now but the situation is dangerous," the source added. Zuwarah, which in normal times has 20,000 residents, has turned into a ghost town.
A pro-Gathafi source gave the same death toll. "The armed forces now control the town and they are pursuing armed elements in the town," 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of Tripoli, he said.
Most residents of Zuwarah are non-Arab Amazighs of Berber origin, who make up 10 percent of the Libyan population and mainly live in the western mountains or southern deserts.
Gathafi denies their existence and they complain of being marginalised and deprived of their cultural and linguistic identity.
A government-organised media trip 10 days earlier from Tripoli west to the Tunisian border passed through Zuwarah, where journalists saw clear traces of violence from clashes between anti-regime protesters and security forces.
Group of Eight powers are divided over military intervention in Libya, France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday, as the countries met to discuss proposals for a no-fly zone there.
"For the moment I have not convinced them," Juppe said on Europe 1 radio, referring to his talks with fellow G8 foreign ministers which began on Monday night.
France is pushing for a no-fly zone that would ground Libyan aircraft to protect its people from assault by forces loyal to Gathafi, and has even raised the prospect of targeted air strikes.
The United States, Russia and European Union countries had reacted cautiously to the no-fly zone proposal ahead of the Paris gathering.