Muammar Gaddafi’s forces shell Misrata, 10 killed


Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shelled the rebel-controlled town of Misrata on Friday, killing at least 10 people.
A Reuters journalist saw the bodies at the hospital in the besieged port city and heard the barrage strike. Pressing ahead with a campaign to help end Gaddafi’s rule, NATO warplanes pummelled a town west of the capital Tripoli despite unmet calls from the United States and Britain for more allies to share the logistical burden of the bombing missions. Russia, which has voiced misgivings over the use of foreign military force and has extensive commercial interests in Libya, wants to mediate reconciliation between Tripoli and the rebels. The latter, struggling against Gaddafi’s fighters, were promised more than $1.1 billion in aid on Thursday by Western and Arab powers convened in Abu Dhabi — though the donors also demanded details on how a post-Gaddafi government might work.
In already war-ravaged Misrata, a Reuters journalist counted 10 bodies in a hospital following heavy shelling by Libyan troops to the west. At least 10 other people were wounded. The artillery barrage came close to the hospital, though the building is far from the front lines. Rebels said pro-Gaddafi forces had also shelled their positions in the Western Mountains region on Thursday night, and accused NATO of not doing enough to stop them. “They (Gaddafi forces) are shelling Zintan with Grad missiles,” said rebel spokesman Abdulrahman, referring to a town 160 km (100 miles) southwest of Tripoli. “There have been no NATO air strikes for a week.” A second rebel spokesman, Juma Ibrahim, said the towns of Yafran and Nalut had also been struck and that Gaddafi’s forces were massing near the Tunisian border to try to retake the Wazin crossing from the rebels.
A Reuters journalist in Tripoli heard a loud explosion in the capital just after midnight, a common time for NATO strikes, but there were no further blasts later on Friday morning. Gaddafi troops and rebels have been deadlocked for weeks between the eastern towns of Ajdabiyah and the Gaddafi-held oil town of Brega. Rebels also control the western city of Misrata and the range of Western Mountains near the Tunisia border.
The rebels, who rose up against Gaddafi five months ago as political upheaval coursed through the Arab world, lack military hardware and order but enjoy widespread sympathy abroad. Gaddafi’s alleged excesses have helped. At the United Nations, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said this week its investigators had found evidence linking Gaddafi to a policy of raping opponents, including issuing of Viagra-like drugs to troops to encourage mass rapes. The Libyan leader says the rebels are Islamist militants and foreign intervention is a front for a grab at the country’s oil. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appearing at the Abu Dhabi meeting of the 22-nation Libya contact group, said talks were under way with people close to Gaddafi that had raised the “potential” for a transition of power.