BENGHAZI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi’s forces rocketed the main fuel depot in Misrata on Saturday, intensifying a two-month siege on the rebel-held city that has claimed civilian lives and prompted warnings of a humanitarian crisis.
Government forces sent Grad rockets slamming into the depot, which contains vital stores of fuel for cars, trucks, ships and generators powering hospitals and other key sites in a city left darkened by electricity cuts, said witnesses and residents.
Fuel tanks were engulfed in flames hours after the early morning attack, as firefighters battled the blazes. No one was injured, a doctor said.
The attack raised fears of shortages, though some of the fuel had already been moved to other sites in anticipation of such a strike.
“After a few days, we may have a big crisis,” said Misrata resident Mohammed Abdullah. “He wants to bring Misrata’s people to their knees, and make them surrender,” Abdullah said of the Libyan leader. “Surrendering is impossible.”
Some of the heaviest fighting has raged in Misrata, which is of central importance to the rebels as their only major stronghold near the centers of government power in the west of the country. Most of the rebel forces are based in the east.
Amnesty International says Gadhafi’s forces may have committed war crimes in Misrata and have used weapons designed for the battlefield and not for residential areas, resulting in civilian casualties and “creating a situation of terror.”
El Deeb reported from Cairo.