Sun, March 20, 2011
World > Africa

Fresh explosions rock Tripoli amid Libya's latest ceasefire

2011-03-20 23:10:09 GMT2011-03-21 07:10:09(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

TRIPOLI, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Strong explosions ripped off the Libyan capital of Tripoli Sunday night, although Libya announced a fresh ceasefire following Western powers' devastating strikes against it.

Anti-craft gunfire was heard in the city and smoke rose near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's residence.

The latest blasts occurred after a Libyan military spokesman said earlier Sunday that a ceasefire would start from 9:00 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) in response to an African Union's call for stopping clashes. All army units across Libya were told to observe the ceasefire.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed the hope that the Libyan military would "keep its word" on the new ceasefire.

The Libyan military declared a ceasefire on Friday after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized any necessary measures to protect Libyan civilians. But the ceasefire apparently wasn't strictly abided by.

The Libyan state TV reported Western warplanes bombed some areas in Tripoli Sunday, showing footages of people injured by the airstrikes.

Sporadic explosions and heavy gunfire also broke out in central Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in eastern Libya, at around 10 p.m. (2000 GMT) Sunday and lasted about 40 minutes.

Pentagon spokesman Bill Gortney Sunday said the air raids launched by the coalition one day earlier had "significantly degraded" Libya's air defense capability.

Gortney said the coalition currently involved in the military operation against Libya, dubbed "Odyssey Dawn," includes the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Italy, Belgium and Qatar.

He said right now it is too early to tell the operation's timeline, but claiming Gaddafi currently isn't on the target list of the military attacks.

The U.S. Air Force Sunday dispatched three B-2 stealth bombers to attack a Libyan airfield by dropping 40 bombs.

At least 15 French planes were also involved in actions Sunday, including airspace surveillance. They didn't attack airborne or ground targets because they met no resistance, the French military said.

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle moved out of the Toulon port in southern France, and was heading to waters closer to Libya.

The only serving French aircraft carrier, with over 20 warplanes and some 2,000 marines on board, would arrive at the destination near Libya between 36 and 48 hours.

Qatar has decided to participate in the military intervention by sending four warplanes.

French Defense Ministry spokesman Laurent Teissiere described the decision as a "crucial point," saying "this illustrated Arabic participation into this operation."

On Saturday, some 20 French warplanes launched air strikes against Libya, destroying a number of armed vehicles of the Libyan military.

In addition, U.S. and British warships in the Mediterranean fired over 120 cruise missiles toward Libya, dismantling over 20 air defense units in the country.

At least 64 Libyans were reported to have been killed and 150 others wounded in the actions, according to the Libyan authorities.

On Sunday, Gaddafi called the Western attacks as "a crusader war" against the Libyan people, saying the airstrikes were "terrorist means." He vowed to snatch a victory over the Western forces, saying they would be defeated.

The coordinated attacks on Libya have also drawn criticism from the Arab League. "What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians," Arab League Chief Amr Moussa said Sunday.

Both Russia and China have expressed regret over the military actions.

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