Britain readies ‘bunker-busting’ bombs for Libya

TRIPOLI: Britain is to add “bunker-busting” bombs to the arsenal its warplanes are using over Libya, a weapon it said on Sunday would send a loud message to Muammar Qaddafi that it is time to quit.Britain and other NATO powers are ratcheting up their military intervention in Libya to try to break a deadlock that has seen Qaddafi hold on to power despite weeks of air strikes and a popular uprising.“We are not trying to physically target individuals in Qaddafi’s inner circle on whom he relies but we are certainly sending them increasingly loud messages,” British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said in a statement.“Qaddafi may not be capable of listening but those around him would be wise to do so,” he said.His ministry said the Enhanced Paveway III bombs, each weighing nearly a ton and capable of penetrating the roof or wall of a hardened building, have arrived at the Italian air base from where British warplanes fly missions over Libya.NATO warplanes have already been raising the pace of their air strikes on Tripoli, with Qaddafi’s Bab Al-Aziziyah compound in the center of the city being hit repeatedly.The military alliance says it is acting under a mandate from the United Nations to protect civilians from attack by security forces trying to put down an uprising against Qaddafi’s four-decade rule.But the more aggressive tactics risk causing divisions within the fragile alliance backing the intervention, and could also lead to NATO being dragged closer toward putting its troops on Libyan soil, something it is anxious to avoid.ye

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera television station broadcast video footage of what it said were foreign forces, possibly British, on the ground near the opposition-held city of Misrata.There were a number of armed men, some wearing sunglasses and keffiyahs, or traditional Arab headscarves, who moved off when they realized they were being watched, the footage showed.Further deepening their involvement, Britain and France have said they will deploy attack helicopters over Libya to better pick out pro-Qaddafi forces. Helicopters are more vulnerable to attack from the ground than high-flying warplanes.Qaddafi denies attacking civilians, saying his forces were obliged to act to contain armed criminal gangs and Al-Qaeda militants. He says the NATO intervention is an act of colonial aggression aimed at grabbing Libya’s plentiful oil reserves. – Arabnews