Gaddafi forces 'cluster bombing Misurata'

Human Rights Watch accuses Libya's military of firing cluster munitions into residential neighbourhoods.

    Fred Abrahams, a special adviser for Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera what his group had found in Misurata

    Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have been accused by a human rights campaign group of using cluster bombs, which are banned by more than 100 countries.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Friday that Libya's military are firing cluster munitions into residential areas as it battles rebels for control of the western city of Misurata.

    "Human Rights Watch observed at least three cluster munitions explode over the El-Shawahda neighbourhood in Misurata on the night of April 14, 2011," the New York-based group said in a statement.

    It said researchers had inspected the submunition and interviewed ambulance drivers who saw two other strikes that appeared to have been carried out with cluster bombs.

    Cluster bombs, in which a delivery bomb releases many little bomblets over a zone, are forbidden under international law since August 2010 because of the indiscriminate deaths they can cause in civilian populations.

    'Opened fire'

    Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fired a hail of rockets into the besieged city of Misurata for the second day in a row, killing at least eight people, a local doctor told Al Jazeera.

    He said seven other civilians, including children and older people, were wounded in the attacks on Friday. Residents told Al Jazeera around 120 rockets pounded the city.

    Gaddafi's forces also opened fire on rebels on the western edge of Ajdabiyah, killing one, rebel fighters said.

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    A rebel manning an anti-aircraft gun was shot dead and two others were wounded in the attack one kilometre from the western gate of Ajdabiyah, the last major town before the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

    "They are in vehicles and they are spread out on foot in the desert. It is very hard to track them," Mansour Rachid, a rebel fighter, told Reuters.

    "They opened fire on us. We have two wounded and one guy was killed."

    The latest attacks come a day after rebels warned of an impending "massacre" in Misurata by troops loyal to Gaddafi if NATO doesn't neutralise Libyan leader's forces.

    Gaddafi's forces launched a heavy attack on the coastal city on Thursday, with dozens of Grad-type rockets hitting the city and killing more than 20 people, a rebel spokesman said.


    The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that a ship with nearly 1,200 Asian and African migrants, many in bad shape after weeks with little food or water, left Misurata on Friday for rebel-held Benghazi.

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    The chartered Greek vessel, Ionian Spirit, managed to unload 400 tonnes of aid supplies in Misurata overnight despite shelling on Thursday, the IOM said.

    A plane carrying an official delegation from the Transitional National Council and a group of 16 patients also arrived in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Friday from Benghazi.

    This is the second batch of wounded Libyans to arrive in Doha for treatment.

    Meanwhile, two small boats carrying five Libyan army officers and 13 other people from Libya arrived in a southern Tunisian port on Friday, Tunisia's state TAP news agency reported.

    It did not give any details on the identities or ranks of the officers, or from where in Libya the vessels came from.

    "Two small boats coming from Libya docked [on] Friday morning at El Ketf port in the province of Ben Guerdane carrying 18 Libyans, including five army officers," TAP said, citing its correspondent in the area. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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