Sound of gunfire echoes through central Tripoli once again

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Fighting has broken out in the heart of the Libyan capital for the first time in two months as revolutionary forces opened fire at suspected snipers loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

Anti-Gaddafi fighters converged on the Hay Nasr district of Tripoli in pickups mounted with weapons and began setting up checkpoints.

Many opened fire at the buildings, fearing snipers were inside.

Assem al-Bashir, a fighter with Tripoli’s Eagle Brigade, says the shooting began after a man was spotted raising the green flag that symbolised Gaddafi’s ousted regime.

Booms echoed across the city in the first serious burst of violence in the capital since then-rebels seized control of the city in late August and forced Gaddafi into hiding.

Meanwhile revolutionary forces pounded Gaddafi supporters holed up in two neighbourhoods in Sirte with rocket and machine-gun fire but the loyalists showed no sign of giving up in the fugitive leader’s home town.

Libya’s new rulers have insisted Sirte’s fall is imminent, and they expected to declare liberation this week.