Nato said it had destroyed 12 government tanks around the besieged Libyan city of Misrata on Wednesday, after criticism from within its own ranks that it was not doing enough to stop the Libyan government from shelling and shooting indiscriminately at civilians in the rebel-held portion of the city.
Rebels, who control the port and much of the north and east of the city, reported heavy fighting but said things seemed to be going their way. The situation of civilians, however, remained desperate.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of France and Britain said their Nato partners were not doing enough to help protect rebel-held cities such as Misrata.
With Misrata encircled by government forces for seven weeks, the humanitarian situation in the city is “grave” and deteriorating, the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF said this week. Water is in short supply, and sewage systems are disrupted. Electricity has been cut off, and the streets are not safe from snipers and shellfire.
Tens of thousands of children are at risk in the city, and more than 20 — ages 19 months to 17 — have died, said UNICEF.
On Tuesday, Britain’s ITN news broadcast harrowing images of the aftermath of a mortar attack on a garden where children were playing. A small boy cried as he was cradled in his father’s arms, a towel covering horrific wounds on his back and legs. Doctors were unable to save his life.
At least 250 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Misrata since the siege began, according to local doctor interviewed via Skype.
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