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France, UK for stronger NATO Action

France and Britain, who first launched air attacks on Libya in coalition with the United States, said on Tuesday Nato must step up bombing of Muammar Gaddafi’s heavy weapons to protect civilians.

world Updated: Apr 13, 2011 02:39 IST
Reuters & ANI

France and Britain, who first launched air attacks on Libya in coalition with the United States, said on Tuesday Nato must step up bombing of Muammar Gaddafi’s heavy weapons to protect civilians.

Nato took over air operations from the three nations on March 31 but heavy government bombardment of the besieged city of Misrata has continued unabated with hundreds of civilians reported killed.

The criticism by London and Paris followed new shelling of Misrata on Monday and the collapse of an African Union peace initiative.

Echoing rebel complaints, Juppe told France Info radio, “It’s not enough.”

He said Nato must stop Gaddafi shelling civilians and take out heavy weapons bombarding Misrata.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said Nato must intensify attacks, calling on other alliance countries to match London’s supply of extra ground attack aircraft in Libya.

Nato, which stepped up air strikes around Misrata and Ajdabiyah at the weekend under a UN mandate to protect civilians, rejected the criticism.

“Nato is conducting its military operations in Libya with vigour within the current mandate. The pace of the operations is determined by the need to protect the population,” it said.

Meanwhile, Libyan rebels rejected an African Union peace plan on Monday because it did not include the removal of Gaddafi, who they accused of indiscriminate attacks on his own people.

Rebels in Misrata, their last major bastion in western Libya and under siege for six weeks, scorned reports that Gaddafi had accepted a ceasefire, saying they were fighting house-to-house battles with his forces.

‘Gaddafi not stepping down’

Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, has rubbished talks of a change of leadership in Libya, and termed rumours of his father stepping down as “ridiculous.”

Saif, however, said it is time to inject “new blood” into the country’s leadership as Gaddafi is too old to control everything, but “the talk of Gaddafi leaving power, that’s truly ridiculous,” he added.