* More urban resistance could lend new dimension to conflict
* Hundreds jailed in capital, suspected of rebel sympathies
* Government denies any rise in rebel activity in Tripoli
By Maria Golovnina
TRIPOLI, April 11 Overwhelmed by the superior
firepower of Muammar Gaddafi's troops, opposition fighters in
western Libya are resorting increasingly to guerrilla tactics in
their campaign to topple the veteran leader.
Unlike eastern Libya, where rebels hold many coastal cities,
the west of the country remains firmly under Gaddafi's control.
The proximity to the nerve centre of Gaddafi's powerful
military apparatus in the capital Tripoli has made it hard for
fragmented dissenters to organise their actions into a movement.
But that may now be changing. Tripoli residents said there
had been several attacks on army checkpoints and a police
station in the past week, and gunfights can be heard at night.
In one attack a week ago, opposition supporters stormed a
checkpoint in eastern Tripoli and seized arms, residents said.
"There have been attacks by Tripoli people and a lot of
people have been killed on the Gaddafi army side," said a Libyan
rebel sympathiser who lives in exile abroad and maintains daily
contact with colleagues in the restive suburb of Tajoura.
Asked who the attackers were, he said they were local
residents who wanted to topple the Libyan leader.
Either part of a broader rebel plan or simply a spontaneous
evolution of tactics, the shift towards more urban resistance
could add a new dimension to the two-month-old war and work to
erode Gaddafi's support base in his main western stronghold.
Another resident said that in places like Tajoura, the
government controlled only key junctions and roads, where it has
checkpoints reinforced with anti-aircraft guns and tanks. But
smaller streets deep inside suburbs were outside their control.
These reports could not be verified independently.
Information is difficult to piece together because the
government does not allow journalists to report freely in the
capital. Suburbs such as Tajoura are off limits to reporters.
Residents have told Reuters there have been more gestures of
defiance in the past week, including a street protest in the
neighbourhood of Fashloom -- a rarity in Tripoli since a fierce
crackdown on anti-Gaddafi demonstrations in early March.
An opposition Facebook group has posted a video of what it
described as a protest on April 7 in Fashloom, a working-class
suburb and the site of earlier clashes.
In the video, a group of men, their faces hidden by scarves,
hold anti-Gaddafi banners and one of them reads out a statement
declaring his allegiance to rebels.
"We are demonstrating yet again after we sacrificed hundreds
of martyrs," he said.
Residents said security agents were using a new tactic by
posing as protest organisers to lure dissidents into the
Describing an incident in Fashloom three days ago, a Tripoli
resident said: "It was difficult to understand what was going
on, but it later came to light that some undercover security men
were posing as activists and protesters.
"When people came out into the streets to join in, they were
immediately arrested. Most have not been released, nor has
information been given as to their whereabouts."
The Libyan man in exile said that in an incident on April 8
two cars waving the tricolour flag of the anti-Gaddafi movement
appeared in another Tripoli suburb. "It was a trick. These cars
belonged to Gaddafi gunmen. When protesters gathered around
these cars they started to shoot at civilians," he said.
The government denies using force against civilians and says
people are free to hold peaceful protests and express their
views. It denies any rise in underground rebel activity.
"We have heard of these reports. They are false," said
government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim.
"They are talking about shootings between rebels and the
government. This has not happened. Tripoli has been peaceful.
... There is no organised rebellion."
He also denied that government agents were posing as rebels
to provoke dissenters.
Emboldened by rebel successes in the east, several western
cities tried to rise up against Gaddafi in March but revolts in
places like Zawiyah and Sabratha have been suppressed violently.
Militiamen have used live ammunition against protests in
Tripoli, locals say, and hundreds of young men have been jailed
on suspicion of being rebel sympathisers.
At night, a network of military checkpoints springs up
around Tripoli and militiamen stop all passing traffic although
there is no official night-time curfew.
Gunfire regularly rings out in Tripoli at night. The country
is awash with weapons and people often shoot in the air as a
celebration. But residents have been alarmed by what sound like
gunfights in the dead of night.
"Many believe there have been small sporadic battles being
fought in some of Tripoli's districts like Souk al-Juma," a
witness was quoted as saying by the BBC on April 8.
The witness reported hearing what sounded like explosions
and said he had heard that a police station in the
opposition-minded Souk al-Juma suburb had been raided.
By day, Tripoli is in a security lockdown and there are no
outright signs of protest or dissent.
Patriotic songs blare on street corners and cars plastered
with portraits of Gaddafi speed around sounding their horns.
People are reluctant to voice their opinions.
Social networks have been flooded with contradictory rumours
about rebel attacks in Tripoli, and residents have given
conflicting accounts of what they hear and see at night. Some
users have suggested that rebels had infiltrated the city.
The picture is similar in other parts of western Libya.
In Zlitan, people said the security crackdown was
increasingly tough in their small dusty town just west of the
besieged city of Misrata, where rebels are fighting Gaddafi
troops in an increasingly violent standoff.
"No one wants him any more. He has to go," one rebel
sympathiser in Zlitan told Reuters. He said fighters from
Misrata brought their wounded to Zlitan for medical treatment
but that was hard because of an intensifying security crackdown.
Silhouettes of what looked like gunmen could be seen on the
rooftops on a recent visit to Zlitan. Its streets were almost
deserted of civilians and many shops were boarded up.
Pointing at a large concrete building in central Zlitan, the
man added: "They have a close watch on all our movements. That
whole building is packed with intelligence. They are trying to