Saturday, 30 April 2011
Clashes along the Tunisian border have escalated since Thursday, posing a new challenge for Gaddafi within the western half of the country where he must consolidate his control to cling to power. Rebels captured most of the east early on in the uprising against Gaddafi that began in February.
Meanwhile, at least two Nato air strikes hit a government complex in the capital Tripoli, damaging offices of parliamentary staff and a building officials said housed a commission for children and women.
A policeman at the scene said three people were hurt, one seriously.
The complex also included the building of the Broadcast Authority, which was not damaged.
A speech by Gaddafi was being broadcast on state TV at the time of the pre-dawn strikes, though it was not clear from where Gaddafi was speaking.
In his speech, Gaddafi reiterated his call for a ceasefire, and said Libyans were free to choose their own political system but not under the threat of bombings. Gaddafi appeared visibly tired and subdued in the rambling speech that lasted over an hour.
On the other major front in western Libya, Nato foiled attempts by regime loyalists to close the only access route to the besieged rebel city of Misrata, intercepting boats that were laying anti-ship mines in the waters around the port. The port is the only lifeline for the city of 300,000, which has been under siege for two months.
The Gaddafi regime said it was unaware of the attempted mine-laying, but said the government was trying to prevent weapons shipments from reaching the rebels by sea.
Nato has destroyed or damaged 600 targets since the alliance began bombing Gaddafi's military installations last month, said British Brigadier Rob Weighill, director of Nato operations in Libya. In addition, 19 Nato ships were patrolling the central Mediterranean. Brig Weighill said the targets hit since last month include 220 tanks and armoured personnel carriers, 200 ammunition facilities and 70 surface-to-air missile systems.