Gaddafi targets relief ship as it evacuates Misrata wounded

Channel 4 News reports:

Troops loyal to Colonel Gaddafi continued to shell the port of Misrata on Wednesday as a British-funded rescue ship docked to deliver 180 tons of relief supplies.

Passengers quickly boarded the Red Star One, which left Misrata carrying about 800 migrants, journalists and wounded Libyans. At least four people were reportedly killed in the latest attack on the port.

C J Chivers reports:

When the bloody siege of this isolated city began, the rebels who rose against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s conventional army had almost no firearms. Many of them relied on hands, knives and stones.

Now they roam the streets as a paramilitary force built around hastily armored trucks that have been fitted with captured machine guns set on crude turrets and mounts.

The transformation, evident in an offensive late last month that chased many of Colonel Qaddafi’s forces from Misurata’s center to its outskirts, is in part the result of a hidden side of this lopsided ground war: a clandestine network of rebel workshops, where these makeshift weapons have been designed, assembled and pushed out.

The workshops are officially a rebel secret. But for three days journalists for The New York Times were granted access to two of them, on the condition that their exact locations not be disclosed and that no photographs be taken of their entrances.

On display inside were both the logistics and the mentality of the seesaw fight for Libya’s third-largest city. In Misurata, an almost spontaneously assembled civilian force has managed, alone along Libya’s central and western stretch of Mediterranean coast, to withstand a sustained conventional attack from an army with all the arms and munitions an oil state can buy.

In these places — the fledgling war industry for a force that regards itself as a democratic insurgency — weapons manufactured in cold war-era factories to be operated remotely on aircraft and tanks have been modified for manual use.

Four-door civilian pickup trucks have been converted to sinister-appearing armored vehicles. And conventional munitions designed for one thing — land mines and tank shells, for which the rebels have little use — have been converted to other types of lethal arms.

The rebels remain ill equipped and materially outmatched. Some of their production is of questionable value. But they have acquired a collective sense that, to drive back the Qaddafi troops, any contribution matters.

The New York Times reports:

In his harshest comments to date on the situation in Libya, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a regional power broker, told reporters here on Tuesday that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi had chosen “blood, tears, oppression” and that he must “immediately step down.”

Turkey has historic and business ties to Libya, and during more than two months of conflict it has tried to act as an intermediary between Colonel Qaddafi’s government and the rebels seeking his ouster. As a result, each side has accused Turkey of favoring the other, or of hedging its bets.

But on Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan appeared to draw a line, saying during a televised news conference that Colonel Qaddafi had violently resisted calls for change and that he must leave power for the good of the country and the Libyan people.

“Muammar Qaddafi, instead of taking our suggestions into account, refraining from shedding blood or seeking for ways to maintain the territorial unity of Libya, chose blood, tears, oppression and attacks on his own people,” Mr. Erdogan said. “Now, at this stage, the thing that needs to be done is Muammar Qaddafi to immediately step down from power that he holds in Libya.”

About 25,000 Turkish workers were engaged in major construction projects in Libya at the beginning of the unrest in February, and Turkey led an extensive evacuation operation for its citizens and others. The two countries began a visa agreement last year, allowing Libyan citizens to stay in Turkey for at least three months without a visa and signaling a turn in diplomatic and business relations.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Mr. Erdogan had spoken with Colonel Qaddafi three times in private, “urging him to step down peacefully and allow establishment of an administration to reflect people’s demands,” but that Colonel Qaddafi had refused.

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One thought on “Gaddafi targets relief ship as it evacuates Misrata wounded

  1. Christopher Hoare

    Finally Erdogan comes to the opinion that those who advocated humanitarian assistance and protection from the government’s own military forces provided before it was too late to prevent mass murder. Congratulations Mr Erdogan, but its no thanks to you, and those like you, that there still are free Libyans to support.

    The spirit, bravery, and industry of the free Libyans of Misurata should inspire everyone in the world who values the human spirit. With people like these in the future the world will not need the participation of the mealy mouthed armchair strongmen who would like to rule from thousands of miles away. May their brains rot as they watch their murders carried out over video links.

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