Clashes Intensify in Libyan Town of Ajdabiya

April 17, 2011 Updated: April 17, 2011

Libyan rebels man a checkpoint as civilians flee the town of Ajdabiya on April 17, 2011.  (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)
Libyan rebels man a checkpoint as civilians flee the town of Ajdabiya on April 17, 2011. (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)
Fighting intensified among rebels and forces loyal of veteran Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Sunday in the eastern town of Ajdabiya, with rebel groups saying that they beat the government army back.

Ajdabiya, located around 100 miles south of the rebel stronghold Benghazi, was assailed by heavy artillery, coming from Gadhafi's forces, reported Al Jazeera. Later, rebel fighters and pro-government forces engaged in small skirmishes near the outskirts of the city.

Rebels fought back by launching a barrage of Grad rockets at Gadhafi fighters, the news agency said.

Amid the clashes and clamor, cars poured out of the city with families and with some rebel fighters, reported The Associated Press.

Libyan rebels flash the V-sign as they drive to the eastern town of Ajdabiya on April 17, 2011. (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)
Libyan rebels flash the V-sign as they drive to the eastern town of Ajdabiya on April 17, 2011. (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)
Rebel forces were able to approach the western town of Brega, a key oil port that they had lost several weeks ago. However, a sandstorm prevented them from continuing further.

“The situation is hard here, and we don't really know who is holding what,” rebel fighter Awad Sathi told AP.

In Misrata, a key city held by rebel forces that has been repeatedly shelled over the course of the civil war, it was more of the same. Gadhafi forces bombed the country’s third-largest city heavily on Sunday and killed six people and injuring 47, according to Al Jazeera.

Last week, reports came out that Gadhafi forces were using cluster munitions in civilian areas, especially Misrata, which is banned in many countries. Several rights groups condemned their usage.

Cluster bombs eject a number of projectiles that explode in mid-air or on contact with the ground. However, many of the projectiles remain unexploded and can later kill civilians.

Mussa Ibrahim, a government spokesperson denied that Libyan forces are using the banned munitions. "We never do it. We challenge them to prove it,” he told Al Jazeera.

“We would never bombard our cities or our people. It is against our morals and our religion,” he added, according to AP.