Libyans flee as Gaddafi bombs rebels

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said all op­tions were on the ta­ble for driv­ing Libya’s Muam­mar Gaddafi out of power as rebels an­grily ruled out talk­ing to a dic­ta­tor with ‘‘ blood’’ on his hands.

De­spite grave reser­va­tions ex­pressed by the US mil­i­tary com­mand, Mr Obama said a no-fly zone was among the ‘‘ full range’’ of op­tions as he de­manded Mr Gaddafi ‘‘ step down from power and leave’’.

Forces still loyal to the vet­eran strong­man, who has r uled t he oi l - r i ch North African state for 41 years, have been bomb­ing re­bel­held po­si­tions in Libya’s east and thou­sands of peo­ple are des­per­ate to flee the coun­try.

The lat­est air raids around the vi­tal oil in­stal­la­tion of Brega were de­signed to scare the rebels off rather than in­flict se­ri­ous dam­age, Mr Gaddafi’s son Seif Al-Is­lam said.

‘‘ This is the oil and gas hub of Libya,’’ he said, vow­ing the regime would do all in its power to re­cap­ture the port.

‘‘ All of us, we eat, we live be­cause of Brega. With­out Brega six mil­lion peo­ple have no fu­ture be­cause we ex­port all of our oil from there.’’

Rebels man­aged to beat off a dawn at­tack on Brega on Wed­nes­day in the first real mil­i­tary battle since the Libyan up­ris­ing be­gan on Fe­bru­ary 15.

The patch­work Libyan op­po­si­tion now con­trols swaths of east­ern and west­ern Libya i n c l u d i n g t h e c i t y o f B e n g h a z i a n d s o me o i l in­stal­la­tions.

Mr Gaddafi re­mains firmly in con­trol of the cap­i­tal Tripoli. More than 100,000 peo­ple have left Libya to es­cape the vi­o­lence, which has killed at least 1000, ac­cord­ing to con­ser­va­tive UN es­ti­mates.

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