Ceasefire as threat of air strikes hit Gaddafi
LIBYA will halt all military o p e r a t i o n s i mmediat e l y , Forei g n Minist e r Mussa Kussa said in Tripoli late last night.
‘‘ Libya has decided an immediate ceasefire and an immediate halt to all military operations,’’ Kussa told a press conference.
He said because Libya is a m e m b e r o f t h e U n i t e d Nations it is ‘‘ obliged to accept the UN Security Council’s resolutions’’.
Meeting on Thursday, the Security Council voted to p e r m i t ‘ ‘ a l l n e c e s s a r y measures’’ to establish a nofly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Muammar Gaddafi’s military.
European governments decided to ban all civilian flights to the country after the UN approved air strikes, Europe’s air traffic agency said.
All 39 member states of Eurocontrol, which includes the European Union’s 27 nations, asked the agency to ‘‘ ban all flights’’ flying over and heading to Libya, the spokeswoman said.
The United States, Britain and France were expected to scramble fighter jets against Gaddafi’s forces after they secured the UN Security Council’s blessing early yesterday ( AEST) for a no-fly zone. Paris warned military action was imminent.
Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam said yesterday his family was ‘ ‘ not afraid’’ as the Libyan foreign ministry said Tripoli was ready for a ceasefire but wanted to discuss its terms.
The UN Security Council had earlier voted by 10-0 to p e r m i t ‘ ‘ a l l n e c e s s a r y measures’’ to establish the no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Gaddafi’s military.
F i v e c o u n t r i e s o n
t h e 15-strong council abstained, including permanent members China and Russia, who did not use their veto power. India and Brazil also abs t a i n e d i n a d d i t i o n t o Germany.
The main rebel bastion Benghazi erupted with fireworks and joyful gunfire after news spread of the passing of the UN resolution, which approves ‘‘ all necessary measures’’ to impose a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and pressure the veteran Libyan leader into accepting a ceasefire.
But rebels in Misrata, a rebel bastion 210km east of Tripoli, said Gaddafi’s forces were pounding the city yesterday after a night of heavy gunfire.
‘‘ Dozens of bombs of all sorts have fallen on the city since last night,’’ the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
He added the bombing was ‘‘ still intense’’.
Elsewhere, clashes were also reported in the western towns of Nalut and Zintan.
So far Britain, France, the U n i t e d S t a t e s , C a n a d a , N o r w a y a n d Q a t a r a r e among the countries that have said they will help to enforce the no-fly zone.