Rebels savour victory after clearing snipers

Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:04pm GMT

By Michael Georgy

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) - Libyans who wanted to venture outside to celebrate rebel gains against Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Misrata were prevented from doing so by government snipers in a tall building above Tripoli street.

After a two-week struggle over control of the structure - once home to an insurance company -- they finally got their chance after a victory late on Thursday night.

Smiling insurgents in sandals walked on top of one of the tanks and surveyed devastation that spoke volumes about the ferocity of the fighting in Misrata.

Libya's third largest city has been under siege for over seven weeks.

Failure to crush resistance there would be a huge blow to Gaddafi, who lost Libya's second largest city Benghazi to rebels after an uprising inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt erupted on February 17.

The Libyan leader appeared to have stationed some of his best men in what is known as The Insurance Building, now a dark shell of wreckage and smashed office furniture.

Rebels said seven snipers operating from the eight-story building severely restricted their movements.

"They shot at anything that moved. They were very good, very professional," said rebel Badr Muhammad. Two of the snipers were killed, three were captured and two escaped, said another rebel.   Continued...

<p>Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the rebel National Council, attends Friday prayers near the court house in Benghazi April 22, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS RELIGION)</p>
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