Qaddafi’s tanks elude airstrikes

Airstrikes destroyed government tanks on the outskirts of rebel-held Misrata, but other tanks inside the city were not hit, a resident said, underlining the difficulty of the UN backed military mission to protect Libyans from Muammar Qaddafi.

Qaddafi’s tanks rolled back into Misrata under the cover of darkness and shelled the area near the hospital, which was also under fire from government snipers.

Rebels said they have killed 30 government snipers in the town and government warships and boats that were in the town’s port have now gone. Rebel spokesman Abdulbasset Abu Mzereiq said by telephone: “There were clashes today and our fighters managed to find a way to reach the snipers on rooftops and killed 30 of them.

“They have also managed to make the movement of those left very difficult because they went to the buildings they are positioned on and blew up the stairs of the building so now they are stuck.”

About movement at Misrata port, he said: “The warships and the boats are gone now and the coalition forces have informed the (rebel) council that they will secure a safe passage for ships that are coming from Malta carrying aid.”

Clashes between rebels and besieging forces continued on Thursday in the eastern front-line town of Ajdabiyah, said Abu Musab, who left the town by car with his family of 10. “There is no water, no power and the bombing is random. Everyone has left,” he said.

France said it had hit an air base in central Libya early on Thursday, the fifth night of Western airstrikes, and had also hit a government plane after it landed at Misrata airport.

Al Arabiya television said coalition planes struck Sabha, a Qaddafi stronghold in southern Libya. A Libyan official said fuel storage tanks and a telecommunications tower in Tripoli were among places hit by what state television called “colonialist crusaders.” A target in the Tajoura district which a resident said was a military area was also hit twice Thursday.

UN human rights experts said Thursday that hundreds of people have disappeared in Libya over the past few months in what might amount to a crime against humanity.

They said they were deeply concerned by reports from human rights organizations and family members that those who vanished were taken to secret locations where they might have been tortured or executed.

“Those people were arrested allegedly by security forces,” Olivier de Frouville, one of the independent experts on the global body’s five-member working group on enforced disappearances told The Associated Press. The disappeared were “mainly people who called for demonstrations and who opposed the regime publicly,” he said.

The African Union said it has invited representatives of Qaddafi’s government, the Libyan opposition and others to talks in Addis Ababa on Friday.

AU Chairman Jean Ping told reporters that Qaddafi wanted to send his prime minister and that officials from the European Union, UN Security Council, and neighboring Arab countries had also been invited to Ethiopia to discuss the Libyan crisis – Arabnews