Gaddafi loyalists stranded in desert
DOZENS of families who remain fiercely loyal to Muammer Gaddafi's regime are trapped in the Libyan desert as fighting intensifies in the loyalist stronghold of Sirte.
Families continued to stream out of the city yesterday, as interim government forces fought intense battles for control of the city centre.
But many men and women were too terrified, angry and mistrustful of the fighters that now control the majority of Libya to flee to the next town.
Crammed 30 people to a room, the families live in an abandoned school building with scant supplies. Others have been taken in by loyalist homes dotted in the scrubland surrounding Sirte.
"The rebels are worse than rats. NATO is the same as Osama bin Laden," said a resident who did not wish to be named. "We have 10 families staying with us now, there is little food, not enough clean water and no gas. Before we lived wealthy lives, I had two homes; now we live worse than animals."
Backed by NATO war planes, rebel forces battling over the last eight months said they were fighting to oust a brutal dictator that was loathed by the Libyan population and that suppressed the basic human rights and freedoms of civilians.
But families fleeing Gaddafi's home town of Sirte said they longed for Libya to be "just as it was".
"We lived in democracy under Muammer Gaddafi, he was not a dictator. I lived in freedom, Libyan women had full human rights," said Susan Farjan.
"It isn't that we need Muammer Gaddafi again, but we want to live as we did before."
"Everyone loves Gaddafi, and we love him because we love Libya. Now the rebels have taken over. We might have to accept that, but Muammer will always be in our hearts," said the mother of one family. (© Daily Telegraph, London)