BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A NATO air strike destroyed 45 vehicles of Muammar Gaddafi’s forces after they had killed at least five civilians in fighting in two east Libyan towns, an oil official and a rebel spokesman said on Sunday.
Gaddafi forces entered the towns of Jalu and Awlijah, south of the eastern frontline near Ajdabiyah, early on Saturday and opened fire, killing at least five civilians and wounding more than 10, the rebel military spokesman said.
AbdelJalil Mayouf, information manager at Agoco oil company that controls rebel-held oilfields in the area, said that after that attack a NATO air strike destroyed a convoy of 45 vehicles belonging to pro-Gaddafi forces as they left Jalu.
He was citing reports he received from an Agoco employee at the oilfields who witnessed the strike on Saturday.
Fighting between rebels and Gaddafi forces has stalled on the eastern front with the Libyan conflict in its third month, but sporadic fighting has broken out in remote eastern towns deep in the desert, like Kufra near the southeastern border.
Rebels say they suspect Gaddafi’s strategy is to hem in the rebel-held eastern territory along the coastline by seizing control of desert towns in the south and moving towards Tobruk near the Egyptian border.
“If you look at the map, it’s very clear what he is trying to do,” rebel military spokesman Col. Ahmed Bani said. “He wants to make an arc down south of Ajdabiyah until the eastern border. He is trying to separate us from the eastern border.”