Qaddafi shells Misrata, calls for ceasefire
Moammar Qaddafi's forces resumed shelling of the rebel-held Libyan port of Misrata April 29, as NATO said its warships intercepted pro-Qaddafi forces trying to lay mines in the city's harbor. The harbor has been a lifeline for ships ferrying the injured to hospitals in the rebel stronghold, Benghazi, and for aid entering the city. The US also charged that Qaddafi's regime is giving viagra to troops to carry out rapes. NATO warplanes meanwhile bombed unnamed sites in the southern Ain Zara district of Tripoli, a frequent target of air-strikes in the campaign. One targeted compound apparently included the state television building, which was not damaged. Italy's military took part in its first air-strikes on Libya, with a pair of Tornado jets taking off from Sicily to strike what a defense ministry official called "selected targets." (The Guardian, April 30; Middle East Online, BBC News, April 29)
Qaddafi meanwhile when on TV from an undisclosed location to again say he is ready for a ceasefire, but that he will not step down. "I'm not leaving my country," the besieged leader said. "No one can force me to leave my country and no one can tell me not to fight for my country." He said his regime "is ready until now to enter a ceasefire...but a ceasefire cannot be from one side. We were the first to welcome a ceasefire and we were the first to accept a ceasefire...but the crusader NATO attack has not stopped."
While accusing NATO of "terrorist" attacks on Libya, Qaddafi nonetheless called for negotiations with NATO powers. "We did not attack them or cross the sea...why are they attacking us? Let us negotiate with you, the countries that attack us. Let us negotiate." And he warned NATO against a land invasion: "Either freedom or death. No surrender. No fear. No departure." (AlJazeera, April 30)