Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s troops have opened heavy fire on anti-regime protesters in an area near the oil port of Ras Lanuf.
Heavy shelling has been heard from the city some 600 kilometers east of the capital, Tripoli. At least four people were killed during heavy clashes between Gaddafi loyalists and defectors, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Reports say Gaddafi’s military forces have bombed the eastern oil-rich town of Brega for the third consecutive day.
Similar air strikes have also been reported in the northeastern town of Ajdabiya 160 kilometers south of Benghazi.
This comes as reports say Gaddafi’s regime has stepped up the recruitment of mercenaries from other African countries. Revolutionary forces say they have already captured scores of Gaddafi mercenaries.
The anti-regime forces say they are ready to hold talks if the Libyan ruler steps down or goes into exile.
Reports say several-thousand Libyans have been killed and many others have been injured after the protests began in the North African nation on February 17.
Anti-government protests have been held across Libya as tensions remain high in the North African nation.
In the Libyan city of Benghazi, demonstrators marched after the Friday Prayers, demanding the ouster of Gaddafi.
A Press TV correspondent says revolutionary forces have promised to continue with their rallies until achieving victory.
In Tripoli, anti-Gaddafi protesters took to the streets. Police used teargas to disperse demonstrators after the Friday Prayers. Gunshots were also heard in the city.
Opposition forces claim they have taken control of an airport in the oil port of Ras Lanuf, after heavy fighting with Gaddafi forces.
Reports say scores of people have been killed in the fighting.
Libya’s state television, however, claims that Gaddafi forces have seized back the city of Zawiyah, near Tripoli.
The city was taken by protesters two weeks ago.
At least 50 people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in the fresh fighting.
The Libyan situation continues to dominate the world oil markets. The uprising in the oil-rich North African nation has increased crude prices worldwide.
New York’s light sweet crude for April delivery, known as West Texas Intermediate, rose 72 cents to reach above 102 dollars a barrel.
Libya produces over one and a half million barrels of oil a day. About 85 percent of Libya’s oil goes to Europe.