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Heavy casualties reported in Libya

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Rebel recruits listen and train during their first day of military training at a rebel militia center on March 3, 2011 in Benghazi, Libya. Supporters of the Libyan opposition, which controls Benghazi and most of eastern Libya, have been eager to join militia groups, which have been fighting the forces of President Muammar Gaddafi to the west near the capitol Tripoli. UPI/Mohamaad Hosam | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/80083ab8e490c59556061afdfb2271c4/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Rebel recruits listen and train during their first day of military training at a rebel militia center on March 3, 2011 in Benghazi, Libya. Supporters of the Libyan opposition, which controls Benghazi and most of eastern Libya, have been eager to join militia groups, which have been fighting the forces of President Muammar Gaddafi to the west near the capitol Tripoli. UPI/Mohamaad Hosam | License Photo

TRIPOLI, Libya, March 5 (UPI) -- Rebels have taken control of the Libyan city of Ras Lanuf, and intense fighting in Zawiya, about 30 miles west of Tripoli, has left scores dead, officials said.

Rebels apparently repelled an effort by government forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi to retake Zawiya Saturday, but another attack was expected later in the day, the BBC reported.

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Ras Lanuf is on the road to Sirte, which is in the middle of Libya and is Gadhafi's home town and the base of his Gadhafi clan.

The BBC said casualty figures were unclear, but that they appeared to be heavy.

A man identified only as Hussein told the BBC the dead included women and children.

"There are people dying everywhere. It is a disaster what is happening in Zawiya. We really need some help," he said.

The uprising against Gadhafi began Feb. 15 and his supporters have mostly maintained control in Tripoli.

Elsewhere, an oil facility in Zueitina was reported on fire Saturday morning, while aerial bombing raids by the military were also reported in the east of the country, The Guardian said.

Gadhafi has repeatedly refused to step down despite international calls for him to stop using military force against his own people.

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