Coalition forces strafe Libyan towns: TV

Coalition forces have strafed positions held by troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi east and southwest of Tripoli, state television says, amid reports seven civilians were killed in earlier NATO airstrikes.

"Military and civilian areas in the Al Khums and Al Rojban regions were targeted in raids by the Western assailants, crusaders and colonialists," Libyan state television said late on Friday.

A resident of Al Khums, about 120km east of the capital, told Agence France-Presse he heard explosions coming from a local naval base, which had been bombed by coalition forces earlier.

Al Rojban is southwest of Tripoli and several towns in the mountainous area are controlled by rebel forces.

Residents last week reported "very intense" attacks by forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Earlier, seven civilians - including three girls from the same family - were reported to have been killed in a NATO air strike when planes targeted a convoy in the eastern village of Zawia al-Argobe.

Shrapnel was sprayed into nearby houses after a truck carrying ammunition was hit, according to the BBC.

However, local doctors said the girls' family bore "no anger" towards coalition forces because there would have been a "massacre" if tanks had reached nearby Ajdabiya.

NATO said it was still trying to verify the reports.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi on Friday attacked the rebel-held city of Misrata with tanks and rocket fire, a rebel spokesman said.

"The criminal's (Gaddafi's) forces fired at the city with all kinds of shells, rockets and bombs," he said, denouncing "a disproportionate use of force".

He said 28 people had died in three days of fighting and dozens had been wounded including residents of other African countries.

"Today they tried to reach the port, destroying everything on their path," he added, possibly to stop outside aid from reaching the beleaguered city.

The Libyan foreign ministry said on Monday that an anti-rebel offensive in Misratahad been stopped after security was restored.

[Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, AFP, 02Apr11]

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