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Gaddafi calls for civilian march on rebel stronghold

world Updated: Mar 21, 2011 13:08 IST

IANS
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Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi called for his supporters to launch a peaceful march on the rebel-held city of Benghazi as a building in his residential compound was destroyed by an apparent missile strike, news reports said.

Gaddafi met with a committee to organise a march of thousands of civilian supporters in Benghazi, the largest city controlled by rebels seeking to unseat him, state media Jana reported on Monday.

Fighter planes from the French military, one of the countries enforcing a no-fly zone over the country, have destroyed several of the government forces' tanks near Benghazi, Al Jazeera reported.

The planned "green march" would consist of unarmed civilians and include parliamentarians "holding olive branches", the Jana report said.

They would be escorted by some armed civilians because Benghazi's occupiers were armed, it said.

Jana said the march was aimed at uniting Libyans and foiling foreign forces' plans to divide the country and plunder its oil.

In Tripoli, before a missile reportedly hit Gaddafi's residential compound, opposition sources reported the sound of explosions followed by smoke rising from the area of Bab al-Aziziya, a Gaddafi stronghold.

Libyan government officials said there were no casualties from the compound bombing. Gaddafi's whereabouts were not known.

In Washington, a US military spokesman had offered reporters a "guarantee" that Gaddafi was not on a target list.

A UN-mandated no-fly zone was imposed over the weekend by a coalition led by the US, Britain and France.

It was not clear which of the coalition powers had fired the missile that hit the compound.

French fighter jets and US and British ships began bombing Libyan military targets Saturday evening.

The US has deployed 19 fighter jets, including stealth bombers. Spain, Belgium and Canada have contributed fighter jets and other weapons to the Libya mission.

Italian and Danish fighter jets have been participating in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, and the Arab Gulf state of Qatar was moving aircraft into position to join the mission.