Home > General > Libya plane attacks oil town, Gaddafi warns Europe

Libya plane attacks oil town, Gaddafi warns Europe

(Reuters) – Government forces seeking to dislodge rebels from Libya’s strategically important coast struck at an oil town on Monday amid quickening efforts to prevent more humanitarian suffering and a mass refugee exodus.

Offering a potential olive branch to rebels seeking to end Muammar Gaddafi’s long rule, one of his associates appealed to opposition chiefs for dialogue, in a sign the aging autocrat may be ready to compromise with the unprecedented revolt.

The offer, rapidly dismissed by rebels, coincided with a renewed publicity drive by Gaddafi that warned European nations to the north of the Mediterranean that if he fell “you will have immigration, thousands of people from Libya will invade Europe.”

A warplane launched an air strike on the eastern outskirts of the rebel-held oil terminal town of Ras Lanuf 600 km (400 miles) east of the capital Tripoli on Monday, witnesses said.

“There was an aircraft, it fired two rockets there were no deaths,” Mokhtar Dobrug, a rebel fighter who witnessed the strike, told Reuters. The attack took place at one of two checkpoints in the city.

The attack fitted the pattern of much of the recent fighting, which has been desultory and erratic, with small groups engaging each other, guerrilla-style, in hit and run raids. Air attacks have been fitful and the bombing often inaccurate.

In some areas, advantage on the ground has swung back and forth without conclusive result.

But the resilience of Gaddafi’s troops in the face of protests which started in mid-February and their ability to launch a counter-attack on a key coastal road has raised the prospect that the country is heading for months of bloodshed.

“It’s clear the government feels a sense of momentum on its side,” said military analyst Shashank Joshi, an associate fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute.

“Government forces have more mobility than the rebels thanks to airlift and a decent amount of road transport.

“That’s blunted by the fact that we are seeing extremely poor fighting skills by government forces, and reasonably competent fighting by the rebels.”

The United Nations and the European Union are dispatching fact-finding missions to the north African nation, where reports by residents of attacks on civilians by security forces have triggered a war crimes probe and provoked global outrage.

Tens of thousands have fled the violence in Libya and crossed the border to Tunisia since the uprising prompted a violent crackdown by security forces.

The rebels have called for U.N.-backed air strikes against what they say are African soldiers-for-hire used by Gaddafi to crush the uprising against his 41-year-old incumbency.

The government says it is fighting against al Qaeda terrorists and maintains that its security forces have targeted only armed individuals attacking state institutions and depots.

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: