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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-08-01

Libyan rebel forces rounded up at least 63 people in the eastern city Benghazi early Sunday in an effort to rid the area of armed groups loyal to embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi, according to a spokesperson.

AFP - Libyan rebels on Sunday rounded up at least 63 people in an ongoing bid to tighten security in the eastern city of Benghazi and rout armed groups loyal to Moamer Kadhafi, a spokesman told AFP.

"This morning we caught about 38 and later today more than 25," Mustafa al-Sagazly said.

The arrests come hot on the heels of a five-hour raid on a roadside factory, which rebels said was the base of operations of an armed group taking orders from Kadhafi's regime and suspected in the assassination of their army chief.

"Four of our fighters were killed in the operation," said Sagazly.

He said five Kadhafi loyalists were also killed in the clashes.

Traffic in Benghazi returned to normal on the eve of Ramadan and there were signs on the streets in support of the rebel forces that carried out the raid by order of the ministry of interior.

"We all support the February 17 brigade," read a banner hanging from a highway overpass in reference to one of the key forces behind the operation to dismantle the group that was blamed for prison breaks last week.

"There were high ranking prisoners of war" among those who escaped from two detention centers last week, February 17 brigade leader Ismail al-Salabi told reporters.

He said only a "small minority" escaped his brigade during the dawn raid.

The site of the fierce shoot-out that left surrounding residences pockmarked by bullets became a magnet for curious spectators during the day but by nightfall rebels had beefed up security in the area.

Security forces patrolled the streets late into the night as shoppers stocked up ahead of the of the Muslim holy month of fasting and prayer.

"Everything is stable and secure tonight," Sagazly said. "There are no confrontations."

Rebels, he said, continued searching for members of the pro-Kadhafi group.

"Some of them run away and we are trying to catch them all over the city," he said. "We are arresting them, that's all."

The NTC this week issued repeated warnings to militia groups --or kataebs -- that remain outside its command to either join its fighters on the front or security forces in Benghazi.

Date created : 2011-08-01


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