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Misrata wounded speak of fighting, resolve

From Reza Sayah, CNN
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Wounded treated on hospital ship
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Turkish hospital ship has picked up some 360 Libyan patients
  • "By God, I would go back to Misrata the first chance I get"
  • The ship will take them to Turkey for treatment

Benghazi, Libya (CNN) -- Hundreds of people hurt in the fighting in the Libyan city of Misrata were picked up by a Turkish hospital ship Sunday and spoke of the violence they left behind.

Despite the fierce fighting that left many of them severely wounded or mourning family members, those aboard said they would return to the besieged city in a heartbeat.

"By God, I would go back to Misrata the first chance I get," said Muhammad el Suker, 28. A salesman-turned-rebel fighter, el Suker was hit in the stomach by shrapnel, forcing him to leave behind his father, mother, seven brothers and three sisters.

He said he is worried about his family and painted a disturbing picture of a war-torn city.

"There are so many killed," he said. "They're killing, violating our honor, robbing our homes. Anything that is wrong, they are doing. You can't imagine what's going on there."

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RELATED TOPICS
  • Libya
  • Turkey
  • Moammar Gadhafi

The ship, named the Ankara, is actually a cruise ship that went to Libya to pick up patients. It took on more than 300 people in Misrata, then went to the naval port in Benghazi on Sunday to pick up medical supplies and about 60 more patients.

The Ankara is expected to leave for the Turkish port of Cesme, where the patients will receive medical attention, opposition officials said.

"We need a lot of help in Misrata. There's so much death there," said Mustafa Abdul Hamali, a 46-year-old taxi driver who lost half of a leg.

"I was driving in my car with my wife, and my car just blew up. I don't know what happened," he said. His wife suffered burns, he said, but he hasn't seen her in weeks because he sent her away to stay with family.

Khalid Moteridi, a 32-year-old businessman, said he was shot twice in the legs by a sniper. Three of his brothers are missing, he said.

"We were fighting with light weapons, but they had so much more," he said of the pro-government forces. "Artillery, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank rockets. That's how they were fighting back."

Moteridi said there is no electricity, food or water back home.

"We're trapped from all sides by the Gadhafi forces," he said. "I don't like the feeling of leaving my family and people behind, (but) I'll go back to Misrata when I get better, God willing, and ... Gadhafi and his gangs will be defeated."

Fierce fighting between the opposition and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has raged for weeks in Misrata, the country's third-largest city, which lies on the coast in the western part of the country.

Pro-government forces in Misrata shelled a medical clinic Sunday, killing one person and wounding 15 others, according to a doctor who was not identified for security reasons.

The clinic had evacuated patients because of recent attacks, said another doctor at a Misrata hospital that received the patients. The victims were opposition "fighters and young people" who were guarding the clinic, the doctor said.

One Misrata resident said Sunday he heard the sound of heavy shelling coming from the port area. Misrata's port is under rebel control and is considered the main site of aid for people in the embattled city.

Troops supporting Gadhafi surrounded the city, with snipers perched on rooftops of buildings, he said.

"When you look at the patients, you get sad," said Jami Sokuci, a Turkish doctor on board the ship. "You know, a lot of older patients. Child patients ... when you see them, you get sad."

Twenty-year-old student Ibrahim el Sheikh said he was shot by a sniper. In his hospital bed, he held a stone he took from Misrata, his way of staying close to home while he's away.

Mohamad Hamdi Sheikh, 64, sat by his semiconscious 12-year-old son Muhammad, who broke his right leg, lost an eye and suffered cuts to his face and arms when an explosive device hit their house.

"I feel complete pride and true honor for what happened, because what happened to my kids is for the sake of the country," he said.

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