News / Africa

Anti-Aircraft Fire Erupts Over Tripoli as More Nations Enforce No-Fly Zone

A Danish F-16 fighter-bomber takes off from the NATO airbase in Sigonella, Italy,  March 21, 2011
A Danish F-16 fighter-bomber takes off from the NATO airbase in Sigonella, Italy, March 21, 2011

Anti-aircraft fire has erupted over the Libyan capital, Tripoli, with at least one explosion shaking the city as more Western nations joined a coalition enforcing a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone over Libya.

The anti-aircraft fire and explosion were heard in Tripoli after nightfall Monday. Libyan state television said the capital was under a new attack by coalition warplanes.

Earlier, the head of the U.S. military's Africa command said coalition warplanes carried out more patrols in Libyan airspace during the day, with seven nations participating in the mission alongside the United States.

Speaking from his headquarters in Germany, General Carter Ham said the other nations include Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy and Spain. He said the focus of the mission, which began with airstrikes on Saturday and Sunday, has now shifted to extending the no-fly zone from eastern Libya to cover Tripoli in the west.  

General Ham said U.S. and British forces also fired 12 Tomahawk missiles in the previous 24 hours at Libyan military targets. He said the goal of the air and missile strikes is to protect Libyan civilians from attacks by Mr. Gadhafi's forces, not to target the Libyan leader.

The U.S. commander also said the coalition has no mandate to provide direct support to Libyan rebels who began an uprising last month aimed at ending Mr. Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

But, he said coalition airstrikes on pro-Gadhafi fighters who advanced on the rebels' eastern stronghold of Benghazi had left the government troops "with little will or capacity to resume offensive operations."

Hundreds of Libyan rebels based in Benghazi launched a counter-offensive Monday, moving south along the coast and retaking the nearby oil port of Zwitinia. The poorly-organized fighters also raced toward the town of Ajdabiya, which they lost to pro-Gadhafi forces last week. But, the rebels came under fire from government troops and were forced to pull back.

In the west, residents of Misrata said government tanks and snipers besieging the rebel-held city fired on opposition protesters Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 50.

Rebels accused government troops of forcing people from neighboring towns to gather in Misrata for a pro-Gadhafi rally, creating a human shield against coalition airstrikes. A Libyan government spokesman said Misrata had been liberated from rebel control later in the day. The rebel and government claims could not be independently verified.

A U.S. military official said a British air strike on the Tripoli compound of Mr. Gadhafi late Sunday targeted his "military command ability." The strike heavily damaged a building inside the complex. There was no word on casualties.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the nation's parliament Monday that the coalition has "neutralized" Libyan air defenses and made "good progress" in achieving its mission to protect civilians. He also said coalition operations had averted what he called "bloody massacre" of Benghazi residents by Gadhafi loyalists.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Washington expects to turn control of the mission in Libya over to its coalition partners in the coming days.

The U.N. Security Council agreed to hold a meeting on Libya on Thursday. Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kousa had written to the council requesting an emergency session to respond to what he called military aggression against his country. He accused the United States and France of bombing civilian targets in violation of international norms.

Washington and Paris have said there is no evidence of civilian casualties from coalition operations.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs