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Misrata's Misery Captures Attention As World Remembers Hondros And Hetherington

Kevin Douglas Grant |
April 21, 2011 | 10:51 a.m. PDT

Executive Editor

Photojournalist Tim Hetherington climbs out of a Misrata building the day of his death. @septimius_sever
Photojournalist Tim Hetherington climbs out of a Misrata building the day of his death. @septimius_sever
As the only rebel stronghold in western Libya, Misrata has become ground zero for the war between Moammar Gaddafi and his domestic and international enemies.

Those enemies include NATO, which has committed a small number of senior officers from several member nations and is considering a ground assault.  The cries of civilians caught in the hell of Misrata's tumult gained more Western ears Wednesday when it was reported that two acclaimed photojournalists, Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, were killed by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) there.

Al Jazeera reported:

Mortar fire poured on Thursday into the besieged city, the only rebel stronghold in the country's west.

"Up to 50 or 60 people… are being injured per day," Mohammed Al Fagieh, chief surgeon at a hospital in Misrata, told Al Jazeera.

"I'm talking about the hospital, I'm not talking about Misrata. The number might double or triple sometimes."

Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in the weeks of attacks, with at least five civilians left dead after fighting on Wednesday.

Reporting from the eastern city of Benghazi, Middle East Online painted a picture of the desperation in Misrata:

Civilians evacuated from the war-ravaged western Libyan city of Misrata have described the humanitarian situation there as grim, saying families are barely able to find enough food and water, that medical treatment is hard to come by, and corpses are lying in the streets.

"We could hear the snipers picking people off in the street outside," said Mariam Doua, a teacher in the city. "Eventually some [rebel fighters] came to lead us to safety in the middle of the night when the militia were dozing. We covered the mouths of the children and ran out into the street, barefoot.

Gaddafi loyalists said that if NATO sends ground troops into Libya, they are ready to make things even worse.  

"If NATO comes to Misrata or any Libyan city we will unleash hell upon NATO. We will be a ball of fire .... We will make it 10 times as bad as Iraq," said Mussa Ibrahim, claiming that the "whole population" is being armed to defend against such action.

CNN noted the poignancy of the late photographer Hetherington's last communique via Twitter: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."



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