TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi launched counter-strikes on Sunday to try to take back strategic towns from rebel forces, while intense automatic gunfire reverberated around the capital.
The resilience of Gaddafi's forces in the face of the widespread insurrection and their ability to counter-attack will increase fears that Libya is heading for a protracted civil war.
While Gaddafi's troops attacked and heavy fighting ensued, a government spokesman claimed a series of swift victories.
Shooting erupted in Tripoli just before daybreak, with machinegun volleys, some of them heavy caliber, echoing across the city of 2 million people, followed by the sound of ambulance sirens, pro-Gaddafi chants, and a cacophony of car horns.
"These are celebrations because government forces have taken control of all areas to Benghazi and are in the process of taking control of Benghazi," Ibrahim said, referring to Libya's rebel-controlled second largest city situated in the far east.