Nato extends Libya air strikes for three months
Nato has agreed to extend its air attacks on Libya for three months. And the military alliance dismissed accusations by Moamer Kadhafi’s regime that it has killed 718 civilians.
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Ambassadors meeting in Brussels on Wednesday decided to renew the mission until late September.
"This decision sends a clear message to the Kadhafi regime," said Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.”
Diplomats expect member countries to come up with more resources to continue the bombing campaign.
Six powerful explosions were heard in central Tripoli on Tuesday night. Nato clailed to have hit a vehicle-storage facility and three surface-to-air missiles there, as well as targets in Brega, Hun, Misrata, Mizdah and Zawiya.
As the campaign intensifies, Nato officials denied claims by Libyan government spokeperson Mussa Ibrahim that 718 civilians have died and 4,067 been wounded in air raids.
Former members of Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) working for private security companies are advising rebel forces in Misrata, according to the Guardian newspaper, which said Wednesday that they are operating with the blessing of the UK, France and other Nato countries.
Ibrahim on Tuesday denied that South African President Jacob Zuma had discussed an exit strategy with Kadhafi.
“Zuma’s visit produced Kadhafi’s first televised appearance in a fortnight,” reports South Afican correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish.”The Libyan leader is dealing with the defection of eight senior officers and crumbling African support”, with Senegal inviting the rebel transitional council to open a diplomatic office in Dakar.
Zuma also went in order to locate the remains of photographer Anton Hammerl, who was killed on 5 April by Libyan troops.
“Kadhafi’s officials lied to their South African counterparts, assuring them Hammerl was alive and well and in their custody,” Cornish reports. “His fate was revealed by three journalists captured when he was slain, and held by Kadhafi loyalists for six weeks.”
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