UPDATE 1-Libyan rebels fight for Tripoli airbase -activist

Sat Aug 20, 2011 11:58pm GMT
 

(Edits, adds quotes)

RABAT Aug 21 (Reuters) - Libyan rebels control most of the Tajourah district in the east of the capital and have surrounded an airbase there, an opposition activist in Tripoli told a Reuters reporter outside of Libya.

"The rebels have surrounded a military airbase called Mitiga in the Tajourah district. The rebels there are telling the brigades that they come in peace to avoid bloodshed. There are areas where electricity has been cut off," he said late on Saturday.

The account from the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, could not be independently verified.

The Tajourah district was the focus of an uprising in the Libyan capital earlier this year, which was put down by government forces.

"Tripoli as a whole has revolted ... Shouts of 'God is Greatest' are emanating from mosque minarets," said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"There is information that Tajourah has been completely liberated, the (pro-Gaddafi) brigades started from yesterday to withdraw completely from this restive suburb."

He said there also was fighting between rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces in the Souk al-Juma and Arada districts of Tripoli. He said in some places anyone going out onto the streets was being shot by government forces. "It looks like a curfew," he said.

A spokesman for the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on state television that small groups of rebels had entered Tripoli but had been dealt with by security forces and the city was now safe.

(Reporting by Souhail Karam; Writing by Richard Valdmanis and Christian Lowe; editing by Michael Roddy)

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