Gaddafi ac­cuses West of con­spir­acy

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

MUAM­MAR Gaddafi’s regime ac­cused the West of ‘ ‘ a con­spir­acy t o di­vide Libya’’ as Wash­ing­ton, un­der mount­ing pres­sure to help op­po­si­tion forces, said it was still pre­ma­ture to arm the rebels.

Fresh f i ght­ing was r eported in the city of Zawiyah just out­side the Gaddafi-held cap­i­tal Tripoli, while Gulf states in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia backed ef­forts to im­pose a no-fly zone over the oil-rich north African coun­try.

In Tripoli, Libya’s for­eign min­is­ter said the West was try­ing to split the coun­try by se­cretly build­ing up con­tacts with rebel lead­ers.

‘‘ It is clear that France, Great Bri­tain and the US are now get­ting in touch with de­fec­tors in east­ern Libya. It re­ally means there is a con­spir­acy to di­vide Libya,’’ said the min­is­ter, Mussa Kussa.

His com­ments came af­ter Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Hague ad­mit­ted a ‘‘ se­ri­ous mis­un­der­stand­ing’’ led to the seiz­ing of a spe­cial forces team in a bun­gled mis­sion to con­tact Libyan rebels. The United States, fac­ing ris­ing pres­sure at home and abroad to do more t o pro­tect ci vil i ans and has­ten Mr Gaddafi’s exit from power, ap­peared to be wary of throw­ing weapons into a con­flict in­volv­ing groups about which it knows lit­tle.

While the White House said it was con­sid­er­ing arm­ing the rebels, it in­sisted that such a move would be pre­ma­ture and De­fence Sec­re­tary Robert Gates warned that in­ter­ven­tion would likely re­quire in­ter­na­tional ap proval. ‘‘ It would be pre­ma­ture to send a bunch of weapons to a post of­fice box in east­ern Libya, we need to not get ahead of our­selves,’’ White House spokesman Jay Car­ney said.

On the ground, Libyan op­po­si­tion groups and me­dia re­ported tank fire and fierce bat­tles be­tween rebels and Gaddafi loy­al­ists in the city of Zawiyah, a flash­point 60km west of Tripoli.

The rebels be­gan pulling back from the key oil port of Ras Lanuf as fighter jets tar­geted de­fences on the edge of town, throw­ing up palls of smoke amid fears that gov­ern­ment forces were gear­ing for an at­tack.

Af­ter the blood­i­est fight­ing of the three-week-old con­flict on Sun­day, the United Na­tions de­manded ur­gent ac­cess to scores of ‘‘ in­jured and dy­ing’’ in the west­ern city of Mis­rata.

A doc­tor in Mis­rata said 21 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a child, had been killed in shelling and clashes there on Sun­day, and 91 peo­ple wounded, t he ‘‘ over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity’’ of them civil­ians.

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