Gaddafi drives rebels from strategic oil port

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The Independent Online

Rebel forces are beating a retreat from the strategic oil port of Ras Lanouf, speeding back to opposition territory by the hundreds as Moammar Gadhafi's army pounds the town with artillery.

The opposition fighters are fleeing eastward in cars and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns. One said government forces were raining rockets or tank shells on the city in what appeared to be preparation for a full-scale advance.

Shells fell near a hospital in the city and hit a series of residential buildings as Gadhafi's tanks moved further along Libya's main Mediterranean coastal road than they have been since the rebels seized most of the country's east.

An opposition fighter with a Kalashnikov rifle said he had fled the frontline outside Ras Lanouf to move deeper into the rebel-controlled east.