Update from Tripoli

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World, a co-production of the BBC world service, PRI, and WGHB Boston. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi continues to fight to hold on to power. Witnesses say pro-government militia attacked the town of al-Zawiya today but anti-government fighters repelled them. The fighting in Libya has not yet produced a victor but it has produced a humanitarian crisis on the border with Tunisia where thousands are trying to escape the unrest. Borzou Daragahi reports with the Los Angeles times. He was at the border yesterday. Today he's in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. What is it like there, Borzou?

Borzou Daragahi: You know I've got to say that in general the Libyan capital is rather quiet. The government and it's supporters appear to have consolidated their hold on the capital. The security forces here have a firm grasp from what we can see on many parts of the city, especially the city center, and even some outlying areas that we've been allowed to visit on a tour. It's very complicated. It appears that both sides are digging in.

Werman: How easy is it for you to move around the city?

Daragahi: You know it's rather difficult for us to move around. Journalists who are here are kept at a couple of rather nice hotels actually. We're not moving out of these hotels without government minders and drivers and so on. Not only because they want to control the story so to speak but it's also because there are many, many checkpoints manned by armed people who even when they see a car full of possible foreigners with a government official driving the car, they're grilling the people in the car. They're very suspicious and so on. So there's a security element as well with having the government minders.

Werman: And so when you've had a chance to speak with Libyans, have people been feeling free enough to speak with you openly?

Daragahi: The ones who are in support of the government, as I said it appears that the government has consolidated its control over the capital and so the ones that are in support of the government are very free to talk. Those who are eager or able or wanting to brave the possible security breach percussions of criticizing the government do so very quietly and (inaudible) but it should be emphasized however that what we're learning here, just being here, is that Muammar Gaddafi does have his supporters. He does have his base and even if it's not a majority or whatever, we're not sure of that in any case, but that complicates the equation a lot. There are people who seem to be willing to fight for Muammar Gaddafi and say that they love Muammar Gaddafi.

Werman: What signs are you seeing of military preparations in Tripoli?

Daragahi: We see a lot of military. For someone like me who lives in the Middle East, there's nothing that out of the ordinary to see guys in uniform with AK-47 standing in the town square. It's pretty much par for the course for this part of the world. We're getting reports that the rebels are preparing an all out assault on the capital. We have no sense of that. Just to be perfectly frank, talking to reporters who are Benghazi and so on, we have claims that the soldiers in Benghazi, the ones who are the rebel forces, are about to launch an assault on the capital. We have no pictures or reporters embedded with those rebel units or so on so I would take those claims with a grain of salt.

Werman: Borzou Daragahi with the Los Angeles Times speaking with us from Tripoli. Thanks very much, Borzou.

Daraghi: It's been a pleasure.