News / Africa

Explosions Rock Tripoli, US Rejects Libya Truce Offer

A rebel fighter gives orders to comrades at the front line between the rebels and Moammar Gadhafi forces, 25 km west from Misrata, Libya, May 26, 2011
A rebel fighter gives orders to comrades at the front line between the rebels and Moammar Gadhafi forces, 25 km west from Misrata, Libya, May 26, 2011

Five explosions rocked the Libyan capital, Tripoli, near Moammar Gadhafi's residential compound late Thursday after the United States said a cease-fire offer from the embattled leader's government was not credible.

The specific targets from the suspected NATO airstrikes were not immediately identified. In other fighting, pro-Gadhafi forces launched the heaviest bombardment in days on the rebel-held western city of Misrata.

Earlier Thursday, Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi offered a truce with rebels but ruled out Mr. Gadhafi's departure - a key demand of the opposition and NATO.  White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Washington believes Mr. Gadhafi's repeated cease-fire offers are "not credible" unless accompanied by actions.

Spain said it received the proposal from Mr. al-Mahmoudi and favors a cease-fire, but only under strict conditions. Western media reported that Libya sent the offer to several governments.

Also Thursday, Libya's ambassador to the European Union said he is defecting following a period of discussion with EU officials. In a statement sent to the French news agency, Hadeiba Hadi said he and his staff are placing themselves "at the service of the Libyan people in its struggle for democracy."

EU diplomats confirmed the defection.

Meanwhile, Russia - a critic of NATO's military campaign in Libya - said several of its Western partners in the Group of Eight have asked Moscow to assume a mediation role in resolving the crisis.

Russia's presidential spokeswoman said the requests were made Thursday during bilateral talks at the G8's annual summit in France. President Dmitry Medvedev held bilateral meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron at the summit.

The French news agency quoted U.S. and British officials as playing down the assertions.

Russia also said it had been contacted by Libya's prime minister who asked for assistance in reaching a cease-fire agreement and starting negotiations.

Britain said Thursday it will deploy Apache helicopter gunships against Mr. Gadhafi's forces in Libya as part of NATO's operation there. France has already indicated it will send attack helicopters to the North African country.

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

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