Gaddafi ‘unable to breathe’

Nato said on Saturday its missiles had hit a site in Libya used by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces to stockpile military supplies and vehicles, while Gaddafi’s state media said 15 civilians had been killed.

A top rebel official said rebels would be ready to discuss any political settlement that did not involve Gaddafi remaining in power, although no proposals had emerged yet at talks with Gaddafi allies that were taking place through intermediaries.

The attack late on Friday was the second within hours on what Nato said were clearly identified military targets in the coastal city of Brega, around 200km west of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Libyan state television said a local bakery and a restaurant had been hit, wounding 20 people in addition to the 15 dead. State news agency Jana said a strike in the same area earlier on Friday had killed five civilians.

“We have no indications of any civilian casualties in connection to these strikes,” a Nato official said.

“What we know is that the buildings we hit were occupied and used by pro-Gaddafi forces to direct attacks against civilians around Ajdabiya,” the official said. Ajdabiya is rebel-held.

“Unlike the pro-Gaddafi forces, we go to great lengths to reduce the possibility of any civilian casualties,” the official added.

Libyan television later reported that a number of people were killed in a Nato attack late on Saturday on the town of al Qawalish, 145km south of Tripoli. It said cars and houses were damaged but gave no further details.

Gaddafi’s government says more than 700 civilians have been killed in three months of Western air strikes, but has not presented evidence of such large numbers of civilian deaths.

The alliance acknowledged accidentally killing civilians in a strike on Tripoli a week ago, but otherwise has said it hit only military targets.

A Reuters correspondent in the capital Tripoli heard four explosions as jets flew overhead on two occasions on Saturday. The blasts appeared to come from the eastern suburb of Tajura.

Libyan television later said shortly before midnight that the Nato-led alliance also had launched air strikes against government buildings in the Khallat al-Farjan area of Tripoli.

In rebel-held Misrata, 200km east of Tripoli, a rebel spokesperson called Abdelsalam said Gaddafi’s forces shelled the city on Saturday but the situation was quieter since a Nato strike on Wednesday which took out pro-Gaddafi positions. A local doctor told Reuters there had been no serious injuries.

Credibility
Nato’s acknowledgement for the first time that it could have caused civilian casualties a week ago prompted concerns within the alliance.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Nato’s credibility was at stake and called for a suspension of the campaign — an appeal that was swiftly knocked down at Nato headquarters and by allies, including France and Britain.

In a televised address this week, Gaddafi branded Nato “murderers” and vowed to fight to the death to stay in power.

The bombing campaign in support of Libyan rebels seeking to end Gaddafi’s 41-year-old rule has lasted longer than expected.

Progress has been slow and rebels have taken many casualties, but there are signs Gaddafi’s forces also are stretched and the economy in areas under his control is feeling the effects of international sanctions.

Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairperson of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), recognised by about 20 countries as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people, reiterated that a political settlement was possible.

“We have agreed to take a serious look at any proposal as long as Gaddafi does not remain in power. We are waiting for any proposals that are [being discussed] around the world,” he told reporters in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Ghoga said intermediaries had indicated that a proposal from the Libyan strongman was in the works, offering the faintest glimmer of hope for a deal to end the bloodshed.

“We have not received anything yet,” he added.

“We expect to get an offer very soon; he is unable to breathe,” said Ghoga.

“We want to preserve life, so we want to end the war as soon as possible,” he added. “We have always left him some room for an exit.”

Officials for Gaddafi’s government in Tripoli were not immediately available to comment. They have in the past said they were prepared for a ceasefire, but that Gaddafi would not step down. Rebels reject a ceasefire with Gaddafi in charge.

In what could be a morale-booster for the rebels, four members of Libya’s national football team and 13 other football figures defected to the rebels, the rebel council said. – Reuters, AFP

Nick Carey
Nick Carey works from UK. work, Geographic Information Systems & Location Analytics; otherwise, good food, good drink, good books, good films, (good) rugby, wittertainee. Nick Carey has over 57 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa

What the law could clarify this year

Lawfare: Major developments are on the cards where law and politics meet, including the first amendment to South Africa’s Bill of Rights

The secret ‘Warmonger’ at the SSA

A listening device acquired by the agency is at the centre of an alleged R600-million fraud operation
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.