Gaddafi playing dirty tricks in Misrata, say rebels

April 25, 2011 - 0:0

MISRATA (AFP)— Libyan rebels have accused Moamer Gaddafi of playing dirty games in Misrata, where salvos of Grad rockets exploded on Sunday in apparent contradiction of his regime's vow to halt fire in the western city.

“Gaddafi is playing a really dirty game,” the Transitional National Council's military spokesman, Colonel Omar Bani, told AFP in the rebel capital Benghazi.
Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said early Sunday the army had suspended operations against rebels in Misrata, but not left the city, to enable local tribes to find a peaceful solution.
“The armed forces have not withdrawn from Misrata. They have simply suspended their operations,” Kaim told a news conference in the capital.
“The tribes are determined to solve the problem within 48 hours... We believe that this battle will be settled peacefully and not militarily.”
Kaim had previously announced the army would withdraw from Misrata and leave local tribes to resolve the conflict in the city, either by talks or through force.
But rebels dismissed the latest move as a ploy, as bursts of automatic weapons fire could be heard and Grad rockets exploded on the city, scene of deadly urban guerrilla fighting for weeks between rebels and Gaddafi loyalists.
“It is a trick, they didn't go,” Bani said in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, adding: “They have stayed a bit out of Tripoli Street but they are preparing themselves to attack again.”
On Saturday, Libya's third city suffered the worst toll in 65 days of fighting, with 28 dead and 100 wounded compared with a daily average of 11 killed, according to Doctor Khalid Abu Falra at Misrata's main private clinic.
NATO planes staged raids on civil and military sites in Tripoli and other cities, JANA news agency said, without giving casualty numbers. Earlier raids by the alliance struck near a compound in the capital where Gaddafi resides.
“A military source said civil and military sites were targeted by the colonialist aggressor,” said JANA, specifying the strikes also hit Al-Khums, Gharian, El Assa and Gaddafi's hometown Sirte.
Three explosions rocked Tripoli late Saturday as NATO warplanes overflew the capital, AFP journalists said, after several earlier blasts in the city centre and outlying quarters.
Heavy anti-aircraft and automatic arms fire were also heard in many areas of the city.
A French journalist was shot in the neck in Misrata, medics said, noting he underwent an operation and was now out of danger. Friends refused to identify the journalist, a blogger who worked for “alternative media”.
The United States earlier carried out its first Predator drone strike in Libya, which NATO said had destroyed one of the regime's multiple rocket launchers allegedly used to target civilians in besieged Misrata.
Gaddafi's regime has accused the United States of “new crimes against humanity” for deploying the low-flying, unmanned aircraft.
Falra, the doctor, said the casualty toll was double that of a “normal” day of fighting in Libya's third city between rebels and Gaddafi's forces, and was more than the hospital could take.
“We're overwhelmed, overwhelmed. We lack everything: personnel, equipment and medicines,” he said.
Ambulances pulled up outside the hospital every five to 10 minutes, also bringing in wounded loyalists.