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Libyan Rebels Take Western Border Crossing


A van crosses the Tunisian-Lybian border of Dhuheiba, Tunisia, Thursday, April 21, 2011.

A van crosses the Tunisian-Lybian border of Dhuheiba, Tunisia, Thursday, April 21, 2011.

Rebels in western Libya have taken control of a remote border crossing with Tunisia following fierce clashes with pro-government forces and a week of intense fighting in the nearby mountains that sent more than 10,000 civilians fleeing.

Tunisia's state-run TAP news agency says 13 Libyan officers and soldiers, including a colonel and a commander, crossed into Tunisia Thursday, where they were detained.

Several news agencies have quoted witnesses who say as many as 100 soldiers loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fled into Tunisia and surrendered. The desert border outpost is a small one about 240 kilometers southwest of the capital, Tripoli. Government forces remain in control of the main border crossing to the north.

The majority Berber population in the remote area has largely sided with the revolt against Mr. Gadhafi's rule and is now facing the wrath of pro-government forces. Many refugees who have fled into Tunisia say clashes have intensified significantly over the past 10 days.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting continued in Misrata, the main rebel stronghold in western Libya, with at least seven people reported killed.

Also Thursday, the Greek passenger ferry Ionian Spirit carried more than 1,000 civilians fleeing Misrata to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The ferry also brought the remains of two veteran photojournalists killed during heavy fighting in the city a day earlier.

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