Archive for March, 2011

Explosions in Tripoli and ‘carnage’ in Misrata

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Three loud explosions could be heard in Tripoli on Tuesday. It was the first time since the uprising began that such blasts were heard during daylight in the Libyan capitol.

The three blasts came within about 20 minutes. No anti-aircraft fire could be seen at the time.

To the east, Libyan forces pounded parts of the city of Misrata on Tuesday, with tanks firing mortar shells and troops using heavy artillery in an effort to retake control of the city, a witness told CNN.

Coalition planes circled overhead but did not strike the tanks, he said.

As representatives of numerous countries met in London to decide the next steps in their Libya effort, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi showed no sign of letting up his effort to crush the rebellion that seeks an end to his nearly 42 years in power.

March 29, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More

US jet crashes in Libya; fighting rages in cities

BU MARIEM, Libya: An American fighter jet crashed in Libya’s rebel held east, both crew ejecting safely as the aircraft spun from the sky during the third night of the US and European air campaign.

Muammar Qadhafi’s forces shelled rebels regrouping in the dunes outside a key eastern city on Tuesday, and his snipers and tanks roamed the last major opposition-held city in the west.

The crash was the first major loss for the US and European military air campaign, which over three nights appears to have hobbled Qadhafi’s air defences and artillery and rescued the rebels from impending defeat.

But the opposition force, with more enthusiasm than discipline, has struggled to exploit the gains. The international alliance, too, has shown fractures as officials struggle to articulate an endgame.

China and Russia, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote authorising the international intervention, called for a cease-fire Tuesday, after a night when international strikes hit Tripoli, destroying a military seaport in the capital.

The US Air Force F-15E came down in field of winter wheat and thistles outside the town of Bu Mariem, about 24 miles (38 kilometers) east of the rebel capital of Benghazi.

By Tuesday afternoon, the plane’s body was mostly burned to ash, with only the wings and tail fins intact.

US officials say both crewmembers were safe in American hands.

”I saw the plane spinning round and round as it came down,” said Mahdi el-Amruni, who rushed to the crash site with other villagers. ”It was in flames. They died away, then it burst in to flames again.”

One of the pilots parachuted into a rocky field and hid in a sheep pen on Hamid Moussa el-Amruni’s family farm.

”We didn’t think it was an American plane. We thought it was a Qadhafi plane. We started calling out to the pilot, but we only speak Arabic. We looked for him and found the parachute. A villager came who spoke English and he called out ‘we are here, we are with the rebels’ and then the man came out,” Hamid Moussa el-Amruni said.

The pilot left in a car with the Benghazi national council, taking with him the water and juice the family provided. They kept his helmet and the parachute.

A second plane strafed the field where the pilot went down. Hamid Moussa el-Amruni himself was shot, suffered shrapnel wounds in his leg and back, but he could still walk. He used an old broomstick as a crutch and said he held no grudge, believing it was an accident.

He said the second crew member came down in a different field and was picked up by a helicopter, an account that coincided with the US explanation of the rescue.

The US Africa Command said both crewmembers were in American hands with minor injuries after what was believed to be a mechanical failure.

Most of eastern Libya, where the plane crashed, is in rebel hands but the force has struggled to take advantage of the gains from the international air campaign.

Ajdabiya, city of 140,000 that is the gateway to the east, has been under siege for a week. Outside the city, a ragtag band of hundreds of fighters milled about on Tuesday, clutching mortars, grenades and assault rifles. Some wore khaki fatigues. One man sported a bright white studded belt.

Some men clambered up power lines in the rolling sand dunes of the desert, squinting as they tried to see Qadhafi’s forces inside the city.

The group periodically came under artillery attacks, some men scattering and others holding their ground.

”Qadhafi is killing civilians inside Ajdabiya,” said Khaled Hamid, a rebel who said he been in Qadhafi’s forces but defected to the rebels. “Today we will enter Ajdabiya, God willing.”

Since the uprising began on Feb. 15, the opposition has been made up of disparate groups even as it took control of the entire east of the country.

Regular army units that joined the rebellion have proven stronger and more organized, but only a few units have joined the battles while many have stayed behind as officers try to coordinate a force with often antiquated, limited equipment.

The rebels pushed into the west of the country in recent weeks, only to fall back to their eastern strongholds in the face of Qadhafi’s superior firepower.

Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city and the last major western redoubt for the rebels, was being bombarded by Qadhafi’s forces on Tuesday, his tanks and snipers controlling the streets, according to a doctor there who said civilians were surviving on dwindling supplies of food and water, desperately in search of shelter.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals if the city falls to Qadhafi’s troops, he accused international forces of failing to protect civilians as promised under the United Nations resolution authorizing military action in Libya.

”Snipers are everywhere in Misrata, shooting anyone who walks by while the world is still watching,” he said. ”The situation is going from bad to worse. We can do nothing but wait.

March 23, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More

Air strikes on Libya continue

TRIPOLI: A U.N.-backed coalition is increasing its efforts to expand a no-fly zone over Libya and halt attacks on civilians by troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. Robert Raffaele has the details.

Anti-aircraft fire rings out over the capital, Tripoli, as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi try to ward off coalition airstrikes.

But there is no let up in the U.N.-backed mission, with British, French, U.S. and Dutch warplanes taking off from Italian soil, and plans in place to expand the coalition to 13 nations. The aim is to control the airspace across northern Libya. Left unclear – who will take charge after the U.S military relinquishes operational control.

Britain and Italy want NATO in command. France favors a committee of coalition nations and Arab partners.

The U.S. State Department downplayed the split. Acting deputy spokesman Mark Toner:

“Again, I would just say that we believe discussions are ongoing at NATO to address some of these concerns and I don’t want to prejudge those conversations – just to say that what we’ve said previously, which is that NATO has certain command and control capabilities that are useful,” said Toner.

Meanwhile, America’s military role in Libya faces objections among U.S. lawmakers. Some object to President Barack Obama’s ordering military action without congressional consent. Others, the added cost of involvement in another war.

Analyst Graeme Bannerman, with the Middle East Institute, says such criticism could affect Mr. Obama’s legislative efforts.

“They point out that under the [US] constitution, the American forces are not supposed to be used unless authorized through a declaration of war by Congress, and funded by Congress and this process has skipped the whole constitutional aspect of it,” said Bannerman. “They point out that the [Obama] administration took the time to go get a U.N. resolution, but never bothered to address this with Congress.”

The coalition air campaign suffered its first loss late Monday, with the crash of an American warplane in Libya. The U.S. Navy says both crewmembers ejected safely, after the aircraft encountered mechanical problems.

March 23, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More

Libya attacks criticised by Arab League, China, Russia and India

The air strikes launched by Western allies against Libya have been condemned by the head of a regional group for Arab states as well as China, Russia and India.

By Martin Beckford 7:00AM GMT 21 Mar 2011

They said that the “indiscriminate” bombing raids went further than the no-fly zone agreed by the United Nations as a way of preventing Col Gaddafi’s attacks on rebel forces, and risked harming civilians.

The criticisms by the head of the Arab League, in particular, risk undermining the legitimacy of the military action taken by France, Britain, Canada and the US, since the organisation had previously demanded the imposition of a no-fly zone.

A week ago the Arab League had said that the Gaddafi regime had “lost legitimacy” as it sought to crush the uprising sweeping Libya following protests for democracy in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen this year.

But following Saturday’s missile launches and jet strikes, the Arab League’s Secretary General, Amr Moussa said: “What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians.

“From the start we requested only that a no-fly zone be set up to protect Libyan civilians and avert any other developments or additional measures.”

However it was later claimed that he had been misquoted, with sources suggesting he had merely meant to reiterate his insistence that civilians should be protected and not harmed under the UN resolution.

The Egyptian presidential candidate also said that an emergency meeting of the 22-member Arab League would be convened to discuss the crisis in Libya.

Meanwhile three of the five countries that abstained from the critical vote by the UN Security Council on Thursday, which authorised military action short of an occupying force on the ground, issued statements claiming that the bombing raids went far further than the agreed aims of enforcing a no-fly zone and protecting civilians.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman called for a ceasefire, claiming the Western air raids had hit non-military targets, killing 48 civilians and wounding more than 150 as well as damaging a medical centre.

“In this connection, we are calling on the respective states to halt the indiscriminate use of force,” the spokesman said.

China, which frequently faces criticism over its own suppression of democracy movements, said it “regretted” the military action and respected Libya’s sovereignty.

A foreign ministry statement said: “China has noted the latest developments in Libya and expresses regret over the military attacks on Libya.

“We hope Libya can restore stability as soon as possible and avoid further civilian casualties due to an escalation of armed conflict,” it added.

The government in New Delhi added to the criticism, saying in a statement: “India views with grave concern the continuing violence, strife and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya.

“It regrets the air strikes that are taking place. The measures adopted should mitigate and not exacerbate an already difficult situation for the people of Libya.”

Germany and Brazil were the other two countries to abstain from the UN vote, but the German foreign minister has denied that his country has been left isolated internationally.

Guido Westerwelle said: “The impression that Germany is isolated in Europe or the international community is completely wrong.

“Many other countries in the European Union not only understand our position, not only respect it, but also share it.”

Despite the statements made by the head of the Arab League, Qatar was expected to join the international operation against Libya by deploying aircraft.

The prime minister of the small oil-rich emirate, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, said its aim was to “stop the bloodbath”.

The United Arab Emirates was also said to be sending F-16s to join the Italian command at an air bases on Sardinia.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “Unlike Gaddafi, the coalition is not attacking civilians.

“The UN resolution authorises all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people. For the No Fly Zone to be enforced safely, it is necessary to carry out carefully targeted operations against Libyan air defence capabilities.

“All missions are meticulously planned to ensure every care is taken to avoid civilian casualties.

“We will continue to work with our Arab partners to enforce the resolution for the good of the Libyan people.”

March 21, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More