Middle East

Libya unrest: Eyewitness accounts

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has played down protests in the country and insisted that all his people love him.

His comments came amid reports that he is attempting to regain control of the western cities of Zawiya, Misrata and Nalut.

Here, people living in places already under the control of rebels, describe the security situation and how they defend their cities.

Abdul-Baset, Zawiya

Image caption Anti-government protesters in the western city of Zawiya on 27 February

I wasn't among the fighters when the confrontation with pro-Gaddafi fighters took place last night. I was guarding the south of Zawiya with other men. My brother and a few of my cousins are at the front.

Morale is high, they told me. I was able to reach them on their mobile phones yesterday and this morning.

I saw a few helicopters coming from and to Tripoli as if the Gaddafi forces were transferring soldiers from and to the area where fighting was taking place. We are surrounded by pro-Gaddafi fighters but hopefully we will win.

We, the residents of Zawiya, have formed committees to defend the city entrances from Gaddafi fighters. Those are located mainly at the southern part of the city.

We have been here for the last four days. I was guarding the whole day yesterday until five in the morning. Every committee or group consists of five to 10 men, depending on the situation.

Our basic job is to make sure that only pro-democracy and Zawiya residents are coming in and out. Gaddafi fighters and mercenaries are being identified by their accents and attitude. They are located on the southern, western and northern part of Zawiya.

You can easily tell them apart, which works to our advantage. Also, I have noticed from their behaviour that they are afraid and hesitant to act.

Ayoob, Zuwarah

Our city has been under the control of its people for 11 days now. So you can say it's quiet now. We haven't been under attack, like Zawiya, which is 60km (37 miles) away from here. We took control of the city, we took over military camps and government buildings and threw out everything that's related to the Gaddafi system.

I know someone who was killed by Gaddafi's soldiers when he left the city. So as long as you are in the city, you are safe.

We took all the weapons from the military camps, so we are well armed. We are guarding every entrance to the city, every road that leads to it. We are also guarding important government buildings. We are protecting the city from outside and from inside.

We, the young men of Zuwarah, created this organisation, we called it "17 February Revolutionists of Zuwarah". We have a committee which governs it. I've been charged to talk to the media and things like that.

Normal life is not easy. Everything has been disconnected and it's hard for people, particularly mothers with babies. Milk is hard to find. There's not enough food and medication. Most shops are closed, though bakeries are working. We are doing our best to distribute the food that there is fairly.

In Zawiya, where the fighting has been going on - they need more medication than us.

I'd like to send a message to the regime. Yesterday Gaddafi was talking as if nothing had happened. He was laughing. People are fighting every day, we just want him out. Not only that, we want revenge. We want him to be judged for what he has done.

We don't even care anymore whether we'll be attacked or whether we'll die. We are tired of repression, all we want is freedom.

Mohammed, Benghazi

Image caption Rebel recruits listen during their first day of military training in Benghazi

The city is quiet. We are preparing to send supplies to our brothers in the west of the country.

We hope that the international community intervenes only by imposing the no-flight zone over the country so that we can limit the damage imposed by this regime and can preserve the blood of our youth and of our men and women.

A week ago there was so much bloodshed when the youth overran the military barracks in the centre of Benghazi, but now the city is being run smoothly by committees which are in full control.

We follow the news in the international media, and hear eyewitness accounts from the other cities that are now run by the people's committees.