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May 07, 2011

Gadhafi Forces Bear Down on Western Libya

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are intensifying their shelling of towns in the country's western mountains, where support for anti-Gadhafi rebels is high.

On Saturday, Libyan government forces shelled four large oil tanks in Misrata, destroying the city's only source of fuel. The blaze spread to other tanks as firefighters battled the flames in vain.

Misrata is the last city in western Libya under rebel control. The port city has been under siege by government forces for more than two months.

On Friday, Libya sharply criticized an international plan to send millions of dollars in assistance to rebels and civilians.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said that Libya is "one sovereign state." He said the planned use of the funds amounted to "piracy on the high seas."

Amnesty International said Friday that forces loyal to the Libyan leader may have committed war crimes in the besieged city of Misrata.

The rights group released a report saying Gadhafi's forces have "unlawfully" killed civilians in indiscriminate attacks using heavy artillery, rockets, cluster bombs and sniper fire.

Also, France announced plans Friday to expel 14 Libyan diplomats, a day after Britain ordered two Libyan officials to leave.

The French Foreign Ministry said the diplomats, who back Gadhafi, had been given 48 hours to leave France.