Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are staging a “massacre” in the besieged city of Misrata, evacuees said yesterday, as Turkey said it was trying to broker a ceasefire to halt the bloodshed.

With Libya in chaos as Gaddafi’s troops battle rebels, an official in neighboring Algeria said al Qaeda was exploiting the conflict to acquire weapons — including surface-to-air missiles — and smuggle them to a stronghold in northern Mali.

“You have to visit Misrata to see the massacre by Gaddafi,” said Omar Boubaker, a 40-year-old engineer with a bullet wound to the leg, “Corpses are in the street. Hospitals are overflowing.”