Snipers terrorise key Libyan city
MUAMMAR Gaddafi’s snipers and tanks are terrorising civilians in the coastal city of Misrata, a resident said, and the US military warned it was ‘‘ considering all options’’ in response to dire conditions there that have left people coweringin darkened homes and scrounging for food and rainwater.
Also on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said the US is days away from turning over control of the air assault on Libya to other countries. Just how that will be accomplished remains in dispute: Obama spoke with BritishPrime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in hopes of quickly resolving the transition squabble.
‘ ‘ When this transition takes place, it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone. It is not going to be our ships that are necessarily enforcing the arms embargo.
‘‘ That’s precisely what the other nations are going to do,’’ the president said ata news conferencei n El Salvador as he neared the end of a Latin American trip overshadowed by events in Libya.
Gaddafi, meanwhile, made his first public appearance in a week, promising enthusiastic supporters at his residential compound in Tripoli, ‘‘ In the short term, we’ll beat them, in the long term, we’ll beat them.’’
Libyan state TV broadcast what it said was live cover- age of Gaddafi’s less-thanfive-minute statement . Standing on a balcony, he d e nounced t hecoalitionbo mbing attacks o n hi s forces.
‘‘ O great Libyan people, you have to live now, this time of glory, this is a time of glory that we are living,’’ he said.
State TV said Gaddafi was speaking from his Bab AlAziziya r esi dential compound, the same one hit by a cruise missile on Sunday night.
Reporters were not allowed to enter the compound as he spoke.
Heavy anti-aircraft fire and loud explosions sounded in Tripoli after nightfall, possibly a new attack in the international air campaign that so far has focused on military targets. Two explosions were heard in the city before daybreak yesterday.
One of Gaddafi’s sons may have been killed, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said early yesterday.
She cited unconfirmed reports and did not say which son she meant. She said the ‘‘ evidence is not sufficient’’ to confirm this.
Clinton also told ABC that people close to Gaddafi are making contact with people abroad to explore options for the future, but she did not say that one of the options might be exile. She said they were asking, ‘‘ What do we do? How do we get out of this? What happens next?’’
Despite the allies’ efforts to keep Gaddafi from overwhelming rebel forces trying to end his four-decade rule, conditions have deteriorated sharply in the last major city the rebels hold in western Libya.
Residents of Misrata , 200km southeast of Tripoli, say shelling and sniper attacks are unrelenting. A doctor said tanks opened fire on a peaceful protest on Monday.
‘‘ The number of dead are too many for our hospital to handle,’’ said the doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals if the city falls to Gaddafi’s troops. As for food, he said, ‘‘ We share what we find and if we don’t find anything, which happens, we don’t know what to do.’’