24 Apr 2011

Libya says army has halted Misrata fighting

8:34 pm on 24 April 2011

Libya says its army has halted military operations in Misrata to give local tribal leaders an opportunity to negotiate with rebels.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim says government troops have not withdrawn from the besieged port city.

Rebels have dismissed his statement and said there were reports of explosions and gunfire in Misrata early on Sunday reports the BBC.

The previous day was one of the bloodiest in the siege of the city, with at least 24 people killed.

On Saturday Mr Kaim said tribes around Misrata had given the army an ultimatum that if it couldn't defeat rebels in Misrata, their fighters would.

He said tribal leaders were angry that fighting had brought life and trade in the western city to a standstill.

Human rights groups say more than 1000 people have been killed in weeks of fighting in the city.

US confirms drone strike

The US military confirmed on Saturday the first strike by one of its unmanned Predator drone aircraft in Libya.

NATO said the drone destroyed a Libyan government multiple rocket launcher near the besieged port city of Misrata.

The unmanned aircraft are typically operated remotely from the United States.

NATO strike in Tripoli

NATO jets have hit a target near Colonel Gaddafi's compound in central Tripoli.

A government spokesperson said three people were killed by the "very powerful explosion" in a car park near the compound.

Reuters reporters said they saw two large holes in the ground where the bombs had torn through soil and reinforced concrete, to pierce what appeared to be an underground bunker.