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Gaddafi meets tribal heads as NATO airstrikes continue

05-12-2011 16:46 BJT Special Report:Int'l Intervention in Libya |

TRIPOLI, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has met tribal leaders from the country's east here as NATO airstrikes continue to pummel the capital.

Video broadcast on Libyan state TV Wednesday night showed Gaddafi talking with what the broadcast said were tribal leaders in a hotel in Tripoli. The date of the meeting was not provided but some news reports suggested it might have been Wednesday.

It was Gaddafi's first public appearance since his youngest son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, and three of his grandchildren were killed in a NATO strike on April 30.

Gaddafi has ruled out the possibility that he will quit and leave Libya, which he has ruled for the past 41 years.

Libyan rebels said in a statement Wednesday that members of Libyan local councils support the opposition Interim Transitional National Council and would counter the regime's attempts to cause division in the country.

They said local councils representing the western, central and southern regions of Libya announced their "unequivocal allegiance to, and trust in" the opposition group and its leader, Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

The rebels also said they had captured the airport of the western city of Misrata after days of fierce clashes with pro-Gaddafi forces.

Warplanes from NATO-led multinational forces have maintained a heavy campaign of airstrikes on Tripoli for three straight days since Monday. Specific targets have included the compound where Gaddafi resides and the bombing has caused enormous destruction in the city.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, NATO warplanes fired several missiles at areas near Gaddafi's compound. NATO officials denied the attacks targeted Gaddafi personally, while the Libyan government strongly condemned the raids.

A two-hour air raid late Monday and early Tuesday severely injured at least two people and destroyed many buildings and other property, including a government building, which was completely destroyed.

Local residents said their children were scared by the bombing and some of them were affected by the thick smoke caused by the explosions and were sent to hospital.

Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi on Tuesday denounced NATO's air campaign as a breach of the UN Charter.

Al-Mahmoudi expressed his condemnation when briefing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou over the phone on the devastating consequences of the bombing campaign.

He said the air strikes had obviously exceeded the scope of the UN mandate and constituted a violation of international law and the UN Charter. He called NATO's action a "serious and sustained" infringement and "an aggression against the Libyan people".

The African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) on Wednesday called for an immediate end to the violence and to all attacks on civilians in Libya.

The remarks came at the conclusion of a day-long meeting between the AU Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) and the EU Political and Security Committee (EU-PSC) at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In their joint statement, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of relevant UN resolutions to ensure the protection of the civilian population in Libya in full respect of the resolutions' provisions.

The statement expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country and called for compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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