Libya: covert guerrilla war in Tripoli

Rebel guerillas are challenging Gaddafi

From Adrian Blomfield, the Telegraph:  Residents of the Libyan capital have spoken of an upsurge in drive-by shootings, attacks on security checkpoints and frequent gun-battles once darkness has fallen over the city.

Even as it fights opposition forces on three fronts to the east and south of the capital, the Libyan government has insisted that it has pacified Tripoli, presenting it as a bastion of unswerving loyalty to Col Muammar Gaddafi.

By day, there is indeed a veneer of normality and pro-regime loyalty in the capital, a front government minders are keen to emphasise when guiding western reporters on heavily-chaperoned tours of the city.

By night, however, mysterious bursts of gunfire can be heard on a far more frequent basis than the sound of falling Nato bombs. . . .

Such violence is thought predominantly to occur in poorer suburbs like Souq al-Juma and Feshloom, as well as in the Greater Tripoli district of Tajoura, places that witnessed anti-Gaddafi demonstrations in February, when the uprising was in its infancy. . . .

Only those supportive of Col Gaddafi spoke freely, although even they conceded that "30 per cent" opposed the regime. Others put the numbers at "about half and half. . . ."

Food prices have soared, queues last for days and banks have restricted withdrawals to just £750 a month, undermining a tacit agreement between Col Gaddafi and many of his people under which they swapped financial security for democratic freedoms.

As the situation worsens, a growing number of people are fleeing the capital.

Last week, hundreds of Tripoli residents sought sanctuary behind rebel lines in the Nafusa mountains on a single day alone, according to western camera crews.

Those who have stayed say they fear the conflict in Tripoli is steadily worsening and will eventually explode into full-scale bloodletting.  (photo: AP)

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