Libyans in the besieged city of Misrata are suffering a host of horrors at the hands of forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, including beatings, rapes, summary executions and worsening food and medicine shortages, a spokesman for the opposition said Tuesday.
More than 1,000 people have been killed or are presumed dead since the conflict began in early February, and another 100 are listed as missing, said the spokesman, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.
"The security situation remains grave, especially in particular areas where Gadhafi's forces are still present -- whether in the form of heavy artillery tanks on the ground or in the form of groups of snipers positioned alongside some of the areas " very close to the city or in the suburbs," he told msnbc.com via Skype from Libya's third largest city.
Opposition fighters managed to repel an advance by Gadhafi forces from the east on Saturday, with the help of bombardments from coalition aircraft. But part of a food supply depot at the city's port went up in flames. Though residents are grateful for the coalition's help, they wanted to know why it did not act sooner.
"People are starting to question how come the response of the international coalition is not being " timely enough, but also well spread enough across the city boundaries and within the city center itself " to just eliminate this kind of threat to the city and its population," the spokesman said.
If Gadhafi's forces had taken the port -- where many civilians have taken refuge -- it "could have had disastrous implications for the people of Misrata," he said.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it evacuated 71 wounded people from the Misrata port on Sunday, including three on life support, 11 with major traumas and many others with abdominal wounds and open fractures. Intensive care was provided onboard until the boat reached Tunisia on Monday morning.
"We managed to dock at Misrata on
Sunday afternoon, despite intense fighting in the city over the past few
days," Helmy Mekaoui, an MSF doctor who coordinated the medical
evacuation, said in a statement. "The violence caused an influx of
wounded people and it was fortunate we could be there and get them
onboard." (FOR THE FULL MSNBC ARTICLE, CLICK HERE)