BBC – Newsbeat – ‘Proud of my role’: Teen sniper’s view of Libya conflict

Newsbeat reporter Burnt out tank in Misrata

Burnt out equipment and wreckage litter many of Misrata’s streets

As you drive into Misrata the scenes are something you cannot prepare for.

For months, Gaddafi’s troops pounded this city. On Tripoli Street, one of the main roads, every building is damaged.

Some are just empty shells. Almost every wall is covered in shrapnel and bullet holes.

Newsbeat met Mohammed Abdul Hamid, 19, one of many who picked up a gun for the first time to defend his city.

“I was a sniper and I killed a lot,” he admits.

“I did many things, and I’m very happy that I did,” says Mohammed – as he stands in the remains of a vegetable market.

Mohammed Abdul Hamid

After fighting in the war Mohammed wants to return to university

He was involved in an intense battle here and says the collection of buildings made it an easy place for Gaddafi soldiers to remain unseen.

“The rockets and big tanks were hiding – there were a lot of bodies,” says the student.

“The smell was very strange, it was a bad smell.”

Mangled wreckage lies everywhere. In the centre are a collection of huge weapons and military vehicles, including a tank.

In another fierce fire-fight Mohammed says he was shot in his leg by a machine gun.

He proudly shows off the wound which put him out of action for six weeks.

The most painful memory for him was losing his best friend. He was shot and killed in front of him, he is still unable to talk about it.

It’s the collection of mental and physical scars that people like Mohammed are now trying to overcome.

‘Missing classmates’

Misrata was hit hard in the Libyan conflict.

There are estimates at least 2,000 people were killed and 10,000 injured in this city, though these figures can’t be verified.

Mohammed is now starting to get his life back on track.

He’s hoping to go back to university soon but says he knows there’ll be at least 10 young men missing from his class.

Damaged buildings in Misrata

The war heavily affected Misrata with an estimated 2,000 people killed

For the injured, the battle’s not over.

There are hundreds of amputees in Misrata, and many are hoping for prosthetic limbs.

In the city’s main hospital Newsbeat met a seriously injured teenage boy who had been hit by a rocket.

“He told me he wants a prosthetic leg,” says Dr Mohamed Alsharif, who is in charge of the facility

Unfortunately, in some cases the means to fully help the injured is not available locally.

“For that [a prosthetic leg] they have to go abroad – we don’t have the facilities here,” admits Dr Alsharif. By Debbie Randle

Ali El-Ehmer


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