An estimated 50,000 people have been killed in Libya since the start of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's rule, according to the rebels' military leadership.
Details of the death toll come as the Transitional National Council (TNC) gave Gaddafi supporters – increasingly pushed back to loyalist strongholds such as Sirte – four days to surrender or face a full-scale military assault.
"In Misrata and Zlitan between 15,000 and 17,000 were killed and Jebel Nafusa [the Western Mountains] took a lot of casualties," said Colonel Hisham Buhagiar, commander of the anti-Gaddafi troops. "Then there was Ajdabiyah, Brega. Many people were killed there too," he said, referring to towns repeatedly fought over in eastern Libya.
The TNC called for Gaddafi supporters to avoid a bloodbath. Rebel military spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Bani, said: "Zero hour is quickly approaching."
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