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Rebel fighters gesture in front of burning vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters/Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
Rebel fighters gesture in front of burning vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters/Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Online glimpses of war from a Benghazi hotspot Add to ...

Typing in a cold room in the middle of the night, a rebel activist who calls himself Dr. Hamza offers glimpses of war.

Libyan cellphone networks have been crippled for days, making Twitter users such as Dr. Hamza a vital communications link between the battlefields and the outside world. He connects from an Internet hotspot rigged up at rebel headquarters in Benghazi. It is a spider's web of wires punched through holes in the concrete walls, leading to a satellite dish that keeps the revolution online.

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His updates are breathless and cryptic. One bulletin, translated from Twitterese, reads: "People are happy, full of hope, angry because of the martyrs."

Even when reached by Skype for an online chat, the frenetic energy of the conflict makes it hard for him to pause for explanation. "I didn't sleep since 48 hours," he says.

During visits to local hospitals on Saturday, he says doctors told him the day's fighting left 70 people dead and 17 in critical condition. "I visited the hospital first soon as I arrived in [Benghazi] It's nothing like I have seen today. I have seen Gaza's victims, also pro-Mubarak thugs who beat people to death, but never saw something like this before."

After 15 minutes of chatting, Dr. Hamza starts to describe an attack on the main square on Benghazi's waterfront, right outside his location: "They are attacking us now," he says. Then he goes offline. The next day, he surfaces.

Back on Skype Sunday, he says his leg was injured but he continues posting updates. Where is he now? "Same place we have been attacked in."

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