At least 48 people were killed and 150 others wounded in air strikes
carried out by coalition forces to enforce a UN resolution imposing
a no-fly zone over Libya, Xinhua reported Sunday. Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi, however, vowed to defend his country against
Anti-aircraft gunfire was heard in Tripoli early Sunday as warplanes
flew over the Libyan capital. Pro-Gaddafi supporters gathered in
downtown Tripoli to protest against the air strikes.
French warplanes attacked an air defence site in Tajura, about 10 km
east of Tripoli, and destroyed several armoured vehicles of the
Libyan government troops near Benghazi, the last stronghold of
Libyan rebels, Saturday night.
The US military said 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from US
and British warships and submarines at more than 20 targets in
Libyan Parliament Speaker Mohammed Abul-Qassim al-Zwai said at a
press conference that foreign fighter jets hit Tripoli and Misurata,
which caused many casualties.
Libyan state-run television said Sunday at least 48 people were
killed and 150 wounded in the air strikes.
News of the British and French jets entering Libyan airspace came
shortly after the opposition called on the international community
to take action to save civilians in Libya.
"The international community is very late in taking action," Mustafa
Abdel-Jalil, the leader of the opposition's National Council in
Benghazi, told broadcaster Al Jazeera.
Western nations had given Gaddafi an ultimatum on Friday to enforce
a ceasefire against anti-government rebels and halt attacks on
civilians, or face military action that was approved by the UN
Security Council on Thursday and earlier backed by the Arab League.
A Libyan government spokesman said Libya was the victim of a
"barbaric aggression" by Western countries and insisted Gaddafi's
had imposed a ceasefire against anti-government forces.
The secretary-general of the Libyan Public Congress, Mohamed al-Zawi,
said the Western attacks on Tripoli and Misrata "caused real harm
against civilians and buildings".
But residents in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi fled eastwards to
escape attacks by Gaddafi's forces, which had reportedly continued
despite the alleged ceasefire and the enforcement of a no-fly zone.
"Far from introducing the ceasefire (Gaddafi) spoke about, he has
actually stepped up the brutality and the attacks that we can all
see," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in announcing his
own country's participation in the military action.
The US Pentagon said the rocket launches were the "first phase" of a
military operation against Gaddafi as attacks on civilians
continued. Vice Admiral William Gortney said the US would need 6-12
hours to assess the success of its initial strikes on air defences.
Gaddafi's forces were shelling Benghazi despite the government's
announcement Friday of an immediate ceasefire. Arab television
network Al-Jazeera reported that French fighter planes had destroyed
four Libyan tanks by the city.
The opposition Libyan Youth Movement said on Twitter that it had
reports of more shelling on the outskirts of Benghazi, with the
number of casualties "increasing by the minute".
Footage on Al Arabiya showed a fighter plane falling from the sky,
apparently shot down near Benghazi, to cheers in the background. It
was not immediately known when the footage was taken.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to
defend his country against "colonial aggression" as Western nations
launched their first air strikes against Libyan defences and began
enforcing a UN-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya.
Gaddafi in a brief audio message carried on Libyan state television
said he had armed civilians to defend the country's independence,
declaring that he would open arms depots to "all Libyans".
"The Libyan people will fight against this aggression," Gaddafi
In a letter to world leaders read earlier Saturday at a press
conference by a government spokesman in Tripoli, Gaddafi said the
resolution was void because the UN had no right "to interfere in the
internal affairs of the country".
"You have no right. You will regret if you get involved in this, our
country. We can never shoot a single bullet at our people, it is Al
Qaeda," Gaddafi said in the statement.
"I have all the Libyan people supporting me and they are prepared to
die for me," said Gaddafi.
The government said its armed forces were under attack west of
Benghazi by "Al Qaeda affiliates", the official news agency
Libya announced a ceasefire after the UN Security Council passed a
resolution imposing a no-fly zone over the country banning flights
in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to
implement the ban.
It was not clear whether Arab nations that had backed the no-fly
zone were offering any military support to the Western-led strikes,
but the US took pains to note that it was not alone in acting.
"We did not lead this, we did not engage in unilateral actions in
any way, but we strongly support the international community," US
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at an emergency
summit of world nations in Paris.