Blasts rock Tripoli as NATO extends campaign

NATO allies agreed to extend the campaign in Libya for another 90 days.

Updated: Jun 01, 2011, 18:40 PM IST

Tripoli: Powerful explosions rocked
Tripoli as NATO on Wednesday pressed its air war amid Libyan charges
it has killed 718 civilians and reports that British
ex-special forces soldiers are advising the rebels.

NATO allies today agreed to extend the campaign in
Libya for another 90 days, prolonging the mission until late
September, the alliance said.

"NATO and partners have just decided to extend our
mission for Libya for another 90 days," said NATO Secretary
General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"This decision sends a clear message to the Gaddafi
regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect
the people of Libya," he said in a statement after the North
Atlantic Council, the decision-making body of the 28-nation
alliance, agreed to extend the mission.

In the Libyan capital, government spokesman Mussa
Ibrahim told a news conference that 10 weeks of NATO-led air
strikes authorised by the UN Security Council to protect
civilians had also wounded 4,067.

He warned the departure of veteran leader Muammar
Gaddafi, as demanded by NATO and the G8, would be a "worst
case scenario" for Libya.

"Since March 19, and up to May 26, there have been 718
martyrs among civilians and 4,067 wounded -- 433 of them
seriously," Ibrahim said, citing health ministry figures which
cannot be independently verified.

He said these figures do not include Libyan military
casualties, a toll the defence ministry refuses to divulge.

Soon after he spoke yesterday, six powerful explosions
rocked the centre of Tripoli, the target of more and more
intensive air raids by NATO warplanes for more than a week.

PTI