The streets of the neighbourhood through which Salim Sheikhlahoon guides me are deserted. The sound of heavy artillery echoes through them, punctuating the staccato cracks of gunfire.
Salim is one of the civilians caught in the cross-fire of the war for Libya’s third largest city, Misrata, as rebel fighters try to oust Qaddafi troops from their city.
A couple of blocks away, as Salim sips tea, a pick-up truck mounted with a heavy machine gun opens fire on a building containing some of the Qaddafi forces.
“I will not leave my house” he says, and gathers with the few of his neighbours who have decided to stay. The roof of his family’s living room has been punctured by rocket fire, and light streams onto the concrete of another, unfinished room in his house. Luckily, when the rockets rained down on his home, his family were not in the room.
Around the corner, Salim shows me to an unexploded shell lying in his neighbour’s garden. Behind it sits a children’s bicycle, a remnant of what would have been a bustling residential district just a few weeks previously.