NATO resumes airstrikes; some Libyans fear months-long fighting

Arab World Materials 26 April 2011 15:07 (UTC +04:00)

NATO launched fresh airstrikes to weaken Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's forces, state media reported Tuesday, as many Libyans have begun to fear that the fighting between rebels and government forces will go on for months, DPA reported.

Frustrations and fears were coming to the surface among residents in the coastal city of Derna, located between the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and Tobruk town.

"If we don't see progress soon, people will get very frustrated," said Iman El Kuf, who used to work in the tourism industry in Derna.

"There are already pockets of resistance against the rebel movement. After dark, they come out. Perhaps if the rebels do not advance soon, others might join them," she said.

Mohamed Founi complained that many people can't find jobs and that schools were still closed. He said one litre of oil, which was sold for 1.5 Libyan dinars (1.2 dollars) before the revolution now costs up to 3.5 dinars.

"That's fine if you are in Benghazi, the centre of the movement, but here, we are just waiting and waiting," said Founi.

NATO has been in control of military operations in Libya for more than three weeks to protect civilians from troops loyal to Gaddafi and enforce a United Nations no-fly zone over the North African country.

State media reported that "foreign ships have attacked a communications cable off the Libyan coast, cutting communications to several eastern cities."

The cable connected Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte with the key oil towns of Ras Lanuf and Brega. Local and international calls to many cities east of the capital, Tripoli, have not been possible for weeks.

NATO carried out airstrikes in Tripoli Monday targeting a communications headquarters used by Gaddafi's forces to coordinate attacks against civilians.

Government officials said the attack on the buildings in Gaddafi's Bab Al Aziziya compound was an assassination attempt.

Despite NATO's continued airstrikes, fighting escalated in the northwestern city of Misurata on Monday. Speaking to the German Press Agency dpa by telephone, rebels spokesman Abdul Hafiz Ghoga said Gaddafi's forces have not respected the ceasefire that they promised in the city.

"Gaddafi's forces have consolidated themselves on the western side of Misurata. They are also gathered near the eastern entrance and are shelling Misurata from a distance," he said.

"The rebels have made good gains in the centre of the city but Gaddafi's forces are still on the outskirts. The statement they made regarding a ceasefire there has no truth to it," said Ghoga.

He also said that "the employment of Predator drones has taken the NATO air campaign into another phase."