Libya rebels storm Tripoli's Abu Salim district

TRIPOLI Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:19pm EDT

1 of 2. A rebel fighter runs at Tripoli's Abu Salim district August 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan rebels stormed Tripoli's Abu Salim district, one of the main holdouts of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in the capital, after NATO air strikes on a building in the area on Thursday.

Some of the rebels in the area near the notorious Abu Salim prison had earlier said they hoped the fugitive strongman was hiding in the buildings with some of his sons.

Thousands of rebel fighters swept through houses and side streets to flush out snipers and were emerging with dozens of prisoners and gunfights were going on.

Local residents, some with children, were in cars trying to get out of the neighborhood, where support for Gaddafi has traditionally been strong, as the rebels poured in.

Rebels drove two pickup trucks with captured pro-Gaddafi forces in the back away from the scene.

There were two NATO air strikes, apparently targeting a fire station. The building was wrecked.

Reuters journalists who moved in after the strike saw two bodies and one seriously wounded man. On the floor of the fire station was a NATO bomb which had failed to explode.

Many buildings were on fire. The pro-Gaddafi forces appeared to have no heavy weapons, just snipers in buildings. (Additional reporting by Peter Graff; writing by Richard Valdmanis)

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