Libya clashes widen, Interpol issues Gaddafi alert

Fri Mar 4, 2011 5:40pm GMT
 

By Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Muammar Gaddafi's forces battled rebels on several fronts in a worsening of Libya's crisis on Friday and unrest erupted in the capital when gunmen fired to break up crowds shouting "Gaddafi is the enemy of God".

Paris-based Interpol delivered a global alert against Gaddafi and 15 members of his inner circle to help police around the world enforce U.N. sanctions aimed at ending turmoil in the world's 12th largest oil exporter.

Vowing "victory or death", eastern-based rebels pressed home a westwards push towards Gaddafi's Tripoli stronghold with an attack on the oil town of Ras Lanuf, which lies on a strategic coastal road, claiming to have taken its airport.

In the west, security forces loyal to Gaddafi launched an offensive to retake Zawiyah, a town near the capital that has for days been defying his rule, and residents said 30 civilians had been killed. Among the dead was the town's rebel commander.

The rebellion in Zawiyah -- the closest rebel-held territory to the capital and also the site of an oil refinery -- has been an embarrassment to the authorities who are trying to show they control at least the west of the country.

The government said earlier in the week it was not using military force to retake rebel-held cities, though one official did not rule it out if all other options were exhausted.

POPULAR REVOLT

Eastern regions of the country, around the city of Benghazi, have already spun out of Gaddafi's control after a popular revolt against his four decades of rule. The rebels' grip on the coastal highway appears to be strengthening.   Continued...

<p>Foreign workers cross the frontier to Tunisia, Libya March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah</p>
 
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