Gaddafi pushes deep

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

THE world moved a step closer to a de­ci­sion on im­pos­ing a no-fly zone over Libya but Pres­i­dent Muam­mar Gaddafi was swiftly ad­vanc­ing on the poorly equipped and loosely or­gan­ised rebels who have seized much of the coun­try.

Gaddafi’s forces pushed the front line miles deeper into rebel ter­ri­tory on Satur­day and vi­o­lence erupted at the front door of the op­po­si­tion strong­hold in east­ern Libya, where an Al-Jazeera cam­era­man slain in an am­bush be­came the first jour­nal­ist killed in the nearly month­long con­flict.

In Cairo, the Arab League asked the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to im­pose a no-fly zone to pro­tect the rebels, in­creas­ing pres­sure on the US and other West­ern pow­ers to take act i on t hat most have ex­pressed deep reser­va­tions about.

In sur­pris­ingly swift ac­tion and ag­gres­sive lan­guage, the 22-mem­ber Arab bloc said af­ter an emer­gency meet­ing that the Libyan gov­ern­ment had ‘‘ lost its sovereignty’’. It asked the United Na­tions to ‘‘ shoul­der its re­spon­si­bil­ity ... to im­pose a no-fly zone over the move­ment of Libyan mil­i­tary planes and to cre­ate safe zones in the places vul­ner­a­ble to airstrikes’’.

West­ern diplo­mats have said Arab and African ap­proval was nec­es­sary be­fore the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil voted on im­pos­ing a no-fly zone, which would be im­posed by NATO na­tions to pro­tect civil­ians from air at­tack by Gaddafi’s forces.

The US and many al­lies have ex­pressed deep reser­va­tions about the ef­fec­tive­ness of a no-fly zone, and the pos­si­bil­ity it could drag them into an­other messy con­flict in the Mus­lim world.

Gen­eral Ab­del - Fat­tah You­nis, the coun­try’s in­te­rior min­is­ter be­fore de­fect­ing, told The Associated Press that Gaddafi’s forces had driven even fur­ther into rebel ter­ri­tory, past the re­fin­ery at Ras Lanouf and were now just 40km out­side Brega, the site of an­other ma­jor oil ter­mi­nal. Fewer rebel sup­port­ers were seen by an Associated Press re­porter fur­ther east, sug­gest­ing morale had taken a hit as the mo­men­tum shifted in favour of the regime.

Out­side the rebel strong­hold of Benghazi deep in op­po­si­tion ter­ri­tory , al - Jazeer­a­came r a ma n Al i Has­san al-Jaber was killed in what the pan-Arab satel­lite sta­tion de­scribed as an am­bush.

Cor­re­spon­dent Bay bah Wald Amhadi said the crew’s car came un­der fire from the rear as it re­turned from an as­sign­ment south of Benghazi. Al-Jaber was shot three times in the back and a fourth bul­let hit an­other cor­re­spon­dent near the ear and wounded him, Amhadi said.

‘‘ Even ar­eas un­der rebel con­trol are not to­tally safe,’’ he said.

‘‘ There are fol­low­ers, eyes or fifth col­umns, for Colonel Gaddafi.’’

The Libyan gov­ern­ment took re­porters from the cap­i­tal, Tripoli, 600km east by plane and bus to show off its con­trol of the for­mer front­line town of Bin Jawwad, the scene of bru­tal bat­tles six days ear­lier be­tween in­sur­gents and Gaddafi loy­al­ists us­ing ar­tillery, rock­ets and he­li­copter gun­ships.

A po­lice sta­tion was com­pletely de­stroyed, its win­dows shat­tered, walls black­ened and burned and bro­ken fur­ni­ture in­side. A nearby school had holes in the roof and a wall. Homes nearby were empty and cars were over­turned or left as charred hulks in the road.

Rub­ble filled the streets and a sul­phurous smell hung in the air. The tour con­tin­ued 64km to the east in Ras Lanouf, an oil port of boxy, sand-coloured build­ings.

The area was silent and de­void of any sign of life, with laun­dry still flut­ter­ing on lines strung across bal­conies.

GRATE­FUL: A Libyan woman holds a plac­ard thank­ing France

dur­ing a rally for the im­po­si­tion of a no-fly zone

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.