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NTC forces, Gaddafi supporters clash in Libyan capital

(Xinhua)

13:24, October 15, 2011

TRIPOLI, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Forces of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and some supporters of fallen leader Muammar Gaddafi exchanged gunfire in Abu Salim neighborhood in southern Tripoli on Friday, the first in over 50 days, witnesses said.

Continuous gunshots were heard in the Libyan capital on Friday afternoon, after a number of pro-Gaddafi loyalists, who were armed, tried to raise a Gaddafi-era green national flag in the area, witnesses near Abu Salim told Xinhua.

Some 40 supporters of the previous regime then fired into the sky with machine guns and roamed in the streets, chanting pro- Gaddafi slogans.

Security checkpoints have been currently set up across Tripoli, and streets in the city downtown are heavily deployed with NTC fighters, who are searching for the diehards of the previous administration. Meanwhile, a witness told Xinhua that clashes were also seen in the al-Hadba area in southwestern Tripoli. There is no immediate detail on the casualties of the incident. Some areas in Tripoli have been currently cut off of water supply, but it has to be confirmed whether this is related to the incident.

Abu Salim, where the Abu Salim prison situates, has been a symbolic area for Gaddafi supporters. In September, over 1,270 bodies of prisoners were discovered by the NTC in the area. They were considered to have been killed by Gaddafi's forces in the notorious 1996 Abu Salim massacre.

A source close to the NTC said there were planned demonstrations by the remnant Gaddafi supporters in Tripoli on Friday, a weekend day when almost all businesses in the city are closed.

As the NTC saw surprising the first fierce clashes in Tripoli in over 50 days with Gaddafi supporters after their capture of the Libyan capital, its fighters were also forced to retreat from Sirte, one of a couple of Gaddafi strongholds, the previous day due to strong resistance.

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