Gaddafi troops advance
Near Ras Lanuf - Libyan fighter jets bombed
anti-Faddafi forces on Friday as the European Union called on the Libyan leader
to go and Barack Obama urged the world to keep up the pressure.
"Colonel Gaddafi must relinquish power
immediately," said a European Union statement from Brussels at the end of
an emergency summit on the crisis.
"His regime has lost all legitimacy and
is no longer an interlocutor for the EU," it added.
The 27-nation bloc expressed "deep
concern about attacks against civilians, including from the air".
But it also stressed the need for "a
clear legal basis and support from the region", reflecting divisions over
the advisability of military intervention.
The legal basis sought by EU states would be
a UN Security Council resolution authorising action.
The statement also called for a urgent summit
between the EU, the African Union and the Arab League to discuss the crisis.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that would take place "in the coming
The Arab League is due to meet in Cairo on
Saturday. The African Union rejected military intervention in Libya, at a
meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Friday.
There was no mention in the final EU
statement of calls from Britain and France for a no-fly zone over Libya - let
alone French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal for "targeted
action" against Gaddafi.
More and more isolated
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made it
clear she was "fundamentally sceptical" on the question of any
In Washington, President Barack Obama told
reporters on Friday: "Across the board, we are slowly tightening the noose
"He is more and more isolated
internationally both through sanctions as well as an arms embargo," Obama
But he admitted he was worried about the
threat Gaddafi still posed given the weapons at his disposal and reports that
he had been hiring mercenaries.
"We're going to have to continue to
apply pressure," Obama said, as the US Treasury Department hit another
nine Kadhafi associates with sanctions, including his wife Safia Farkash and
his defense minister.
The US has already frozen $32bn in Libyan
Obama also announced he would appoint envoys
to meet the Libyan opposition.
Also in Washington, Libya's former ambassador
to the UN, Abdel Rahman Shalgam, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would
meet Mahmoud Jibril, the Libyan opposition National Council's foreign affairs
chief, in Paris on Monday.
In Libya itself however, Gaddafi's fighter
jets bombed rebel forces, as his forces tried to press the iniative won in
Rebels said fighting had flared again in the
key eastern oil hub and frontline town of Ras Lanuf, after most of them were
driven out in a fierce battle on Thursday after holding it for a week.
In the midst of a heavy-weapons duel, a
warplane dropped bombs on a rebel checkpoint 10km east of the town and on a
nearby oil refinery, but no casualties were reported.
An AFP reporter saw flames and a massive
plume of thick black smoke rising from the refinery, the second facility to be
hit in the week's fighting.
A second strike hit rebel positions about 15km
east of town.
Pro-Kadhafi state television reported:
"The population of Ras Lanuf is overjoyed after the town was purged of
armed gangs backed by Al-Qaeda."
There was no reliable casualty figure from
Friday's fighting, but an AFP reporter saw at least five bodies, while doctors
said 10 people were killed on Thursday.
Earlier, rebels fired a salvo of at least 12
Katyushas from a rocket launcher mounted on the back of a truck, and what
rebels said were loyalist army shells and Grad rockets were heard exploding
Volunteer medics in Libya called for
A few kilometres east of Ras Lanuf, Doctor
Awad el-Ghweiry feared his makeshift clinic would not be able to cope.
"Where are all the international
organisations?" he demanded, as he and his colleagues treated three rebels
and three loyalists.
In the western city of Zawhiya, Gaddafi's
troops fired into the air to celebrate the capture of the rebel stronghold,
which put up a fierce two-week resistance.
UN mission to visit
And the country's oil chief Shukri Ghanem
told AFP that operations had resumed after a three-day suspension at a key
refinery in Zawiyah which supplies the capital and western Libya.
But in eastern, rebel-held Benghazi, up to 10
000 people poured onto the streets on Friday in a carnival-like atmosphere,
calling for Gaddafi to go and praying for victory.
Libya has suspended diplomatic relations with
France, Gaddafi's deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaaim said on Friday, after Paris
recognised the Libyan rebels' self-proclaimed national council a day earlier.
A UN mission would visit Libya on Saturday to
evaluate its humanitarian needs, Kaaim told reporters in Tripoli.
In New York UN chief Ban Ki-moon said his
envoy, former Jordanian foreign minister Abdul Ilah Khatib, would raise
international concerns about Gaddafi's deadly crackdown on protests "in no