Libya accused NATO of a deadly raid on a clinic as the top US military officer deemed the air campaign at a “stalemate” and Britain eased its stance on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s future.
The reported NATO air strike on the small clinic in Zliten, east of Tripoli, occurred on Monday morning, a local official told foreign reporters on a guided media tour of the western town. Government minders said the air strike had killed at least seven people.
The journalists saw a completely destroyed building with a crescent sign at its entrance and the ground littered with surgical gloves, oxygen bottles, pharmaceuticals and stretchers, but no victims.
In other parts of Zliten the reporters were shown three damaged food storage buildings and another still on fire, which the government minders also blamed on NATO.
Strewn around the site were hundreds of smouldering bags of rice, tomatoes and vegetable oil, as firefighters tried to extinguish the flames. In the same compound, journalists saw a completely destroyed building bearing the name “Agricultural Security.”
A NATO official yesterday confirmed targets had been struck near Zliten, but said it had “no evidence” that any were civilian facilities.
“NATO struck a number of targets near Zliten [on Monday] that were military in nature. These targets were a command and control node and a vehicle storage facility that contained military vehicles,” the official said.
“We understand that the Qaddafi regime organized a press tour to the area, during which these allegations were made; however, we have no evidence suggesting that these allegations are founded,” the official said.
The official said that as is the case with all NATO strikes, “a thorough damage assessment is conducted afterwards.”
“As always great care is taken to minimize the risk of civilian casualties. We are always concerned by any reports of civilian casualties, take them seriously and the appropriate analysis will be conducted to ascertain the legitimacy, or otherwise, of these allegations,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Libya’s insurgents have accused Qaddafi’s forces of shelling Misrata, targeting gas and oil facilities and setting them on fire. The rebels appealed for help to put out fires caused by the shelling.
In Washington, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen spoke of a “stalemate” in NATO’s Libya campaign, but still voiced optimism the strategy would lead to the departure of Qaddafi.
“We are, generally, in a stalemate,” he said.
He added that NATO has “dramatically attrited [reduced] his forces” and “additional pressure has been brought,” even if Qaddafi has not been ousted.
“In the long run, I think it’s a strategy that will work... [toward] removal of Qaddafi from power,” Mullen said.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague demanded Qaddafi step down, but said he might be allowed to remain in Libya.
Speaking ahead of talks with French counterpart Alain Juppe, Hague said Britain would prefer for Qaddafi to quit Libya and stressed that France and Britain were “absolutely united” in NATO’s current mission against Qaddafi.
“Obviously him leaving Libya itself would be the best way of showing the Libyan people that they no longer have to live in fear of Qaddafi,” he said. “But as I have said all along, this is ultimately a question for Libyans to determine.”
In other developments, the part of Libya under Qaddafi’s control is wracked by shortages in fuel, food and cash despite a veneer of normalcy, according to a UN fact-finding mission.
In a statement issued late on Monday, the UN said its week-long mission to the country had identified lack of fuel, rising food prices, a strained medical system and a cash crunch as some of the problems besetting Qaddafi’s government.
“Although the mission observed aspects of normalcy in Tripoli, members identified pockets of vulnerability where people need urgent humanitarian assistance,” Humanitarian Coordinator Laurence Hart said about the UN mission, which concluded on Sunday.
The UN said the medical system is under strain not only because of casualties from the fighting, but the departure of thousands of foreign health workers.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year