Libyan troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi fought gun battles with rebels in the town of Zawiyah Saturday, witnesses said, shutting the coastal highway that links the capital Tripoli with Tunisia. Two Reuters reporters traveling via the town, which lies just 50 km (30 miles) outside of Tripoli, on two separate trips six hours apart, were diverted via backstreets with a police escort while the fighting raged on.
They said the highway was deserted except for lots of soldiers, police and armed men in civilian clothes. One heard bursts of gunfire coming from the direction of the city.
"The situation is very bad in Zawiyah. There's been fierce fighting since the morning," said the resident, who gave only his first name, Mohammed, fearing reprisals.