Thursday, March 3, 2011

3,000 year old Battle and Hunting Art in Libya

BBC Chronological Blog for Thursday, March 3, 2011

0000 That's where the BBC's live coverage of Libya ends for today. Tomorrow is Friday, the Islamic holy day, and Col Gaddafi's opponents say they plan to stage more protests against him. Both Tunisia's President Ben Ali and Egypt's President Mubarak finally left on a Friday, but Col Gaddafi is showing no sign of bowing to the rising tide of domestic and international demands that he go. Stay with the BBC News website for all the news from Libya and the wider world.

2356 A reminder that there is a huge amount of information - including maps, analysis, pictures, profiles and your stories - on the BBC's Middle East and Arab unrest special report page.

2351 Moustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the anti-Gaddafi committee in Benghazi told the BBC all responsibility for the violence lay with Col Gaddafi. "Any weapons we have today are the weapons that we have captured from his military camps and they are in a defensive nature only. All the aggression that has taken place is really from his side. He doesn't need peace to stop the bloodshed. All he needs to do is leave."

2348 Our main news story now focuses on the rebels' insistence that they will not negotiate unless Col Gaddafi resigns. It also contains a useful clickable map of our correspondents' reports from across Libya.

2345 The BBC's Kevin Connolly has been spending time with the anti-Gaddafi movement in Benghazi, and asks whether their ill-equipped and undertrained forces really have the ability to take on the regime and win.

2340 Lisa Goldman tweets: "Libyan friend abroad says he keeps calls to family in Tripoli to 60 seconds or less, "for security reasons."
2326 This is what US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley had to say about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's offer of mediated talks in Libya: "You don't need an international commission to tell Colonel Gadhafi what he needs to do for the good of his country and the good of his people. He should step aside, and for the good of his people, he should stop attacking them."

2318 Libya United tweets: "Mass killing, Mass kidnapping, Terrorizing civilians, cutting connection,..etc, nothing 'll stop us from snatching our Freedom "

2314 More on the allegations of kidnapping. The Network of Free Ulema, a group of clerics in Libya, has released a statement saying pro-Gaddafi forces are attempting to "clean up" the capital before it comes under the media glare during prayers on Friday.

2308 Sarah Abdallah tweets: "Muammar #Gaddafi-loyalist forces are conducting a huge kidnapping campaign across #Tripoli to intimidate #Libyan protesters."

2300 CNN correspondent Nic Robertson tweets: "Massive increase in security on road from south leading to #Tripoli, more checkpts, tanks, heavy artillery, professionally equipped same time, telephone internet access down."
2250 LSE's Prof Fawaz Gerges says that after the resignation of director Howard Davies, other universities should come clean about their financial backers. "British institutions are really undergoing a crisis because of lack of funding. And we have to be vigilant about what kind of funds we accept, about what kind of sources we accept, about what kind of ethical rules we have."
2239Reports from Tripoli describe an uneasy calm ahead of a possible flashpoint following Friday prayers, when protests in the capital are expected to resume.

2228 Dan Murphy tweets: "Is internet down across benghazi #libya? Is in my location. I stupidly assumed local technical issue. Was i wrong?... As for #libya cell phones... traffic bad tonight. But just made a local-cell to local-cell call with no problems.

2220Buses and trucks carrying rebel fighters have been seen moving through Adjabiya to help fortify defence positions there, witnesses have reported. They say hundreds of volunteers from different cities controlled by the rebels have arrived in recent days.

2207About 400 US Marines have arrived at an American naval base in Greece in a build-up of US forces around Libya, AP news agency has reported.

2204 Libya_Awake_United tweets: "Still no internet connection in #Tripoli"

2202 Fawaz Gerges, a professor at the London School of Economic, tells the BBC there is "a great deal of soul searching" going on at the university over its connections to the Gaddafi regime. He praised Sir Howard Davies for resigning as director over the LSE "blunder", saying his actions "speak volumes about the moral character of this man".

2158 Ibn Omar tweets: "tomorrow there will be a lot of people killed marching for freedom. please keep #libya in your prayers"

2153 Col Gaddafi's regime is still making belligerent noises. State TV says the country's supreme judicial council held an extraordinary meeting and highlighted "the importance of implementing Libyan criminal law with regard to the ongoing incidents and trial of their perpetrators".

2152 "The target was the distribution of the drugs among young people through drug traffickers," said official Abdel Haqim Giniwa. "Thanks to all the hard work of the security forces, this quantity of the drug was intercepted. It would have caused social and economic disorder."

2149 Col Gaddafi has insisted for some time that those opposed to him are being given mind-altering drugs by al-Qaeda. Now, Libya's anti-narcotics department says it has interrupted a shipment of 37 million Tramadol painkillers, allegedly bought in Dubai by a dealer with links to al-Qaeda, Reuters reports.

2143 LSE's now former director Sir Howard Davies has said advising the Gaddafi regime on its financial reforms was "a personal error of judgement". Full BBC story on that here.

2131More comment now from another Latin American leader. Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega says "a ferocious campaign" has been mounted against Col Gaddafi. In a report on the website of newspaper La Prensa, he reiterated the Nicaraguan people's solidarity with Libya and its leader.

2120The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says there is no appetite among White House officials for unilateral military action over Libya.

2107Arab envoys meeting in Madrid have told Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez that they reject any idea of outside military intervention in Libya, Spanish news agency Efe reports.

2056The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Benghazi says neither government forces nor opposition groups seem to be powerful enough to defeat each other militarily, raising the prospect of protracted political stalemate in Libya.

2047 tweets: "BREAKING: Families of Misratah offered 200,000 Libyan Dinars to stop protesting - #feb17 #libya"

2044Sir Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics, has resigned over the university's links to the family of Col Gaddafi. Sir Howard said in a statement he recognised that the LSE's reputation had "suffered". The LSE is investigating claims that one of Col Gaddafi's sons plagiarised his PhD thesis there.

2038Calls for fresh protests in Tripoli after Friday prayers are being passed by word of mouth in several districts of the capital, for fear of reprisals by militia loyal to Col Gaddafi, AP news agency reports.

2032Reports from Tripoli say pro-Gaddafi militia groups are roaming the streets hunting suspected protesters. They go under numerous names including Internal Security, the Central Support Force, the People's Force, the People's Guards and the Brigade of Mohammed al-Magarif (head of Col Gaddafi's personal guard).

2024Pro-Gaddafi spies may have infiltrated the ranks of opposition fighters and officials in Benghazi, waiting to surface if forces loyal to the Libyan leader retake the city, according to an article in the Gulf News.

2015The Libyan revolt has led to another casualty - the African Youth Championship due to take place in Libya between 18 March and 1 April. African governing body CAF says the football event will be postponed because of the unrest and a new host nation and dates will be announced soon.

2006 The Dictator tweets: "Regime tracking protesters in videos/talking to the media - #Tripoli protesters: Stay on the move, temporary accommodation etc."

2003 Jean-Philippe Chauzy, of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said the situation was "gathering momentum by the hour". He told the BBC: "This is a massive inflow. I think we have to be realistic about the logistical capacities. So it's not perfect but it's coming into shape now."

2000 There's also been a change in the nationalities crossing, our correspondent adds, with an influx of Bangladeshis and also numbers of Pakistanis, Africans and South-East Asians.

1959 The BBC's Jim Muir at the Tunisian border says the flow of people has eased somewhat - it's not clear whether that's because there are fewer trying to leave or because they're being held up inside Libya.

1955 Danya B Mohammed tweets: "@barackobama thanks, we know #Gaddafi isn't legitimate, please stop reminding us and do something to remove him. #LIBYA"

1951 Lisa Goldman tweets: "Two sources confirm: Internet blocked in #Tripoli."

1947 Mariah Carey said on her website: "I was naive and unaware of who I was booked to perform for. I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess." The statement said funds from a new song would be donated for "human rights issues" and that she "may even set up her own foundation".

1945 First Nelly Furtado, then Beyonce, now Mariah Carey - all have been paid by the Gaddafi clan in the past to perform private gigs but are now distancing themselves from the colonel and his family.

1935 Those Tunisian elections have been scheduled for 24 July, it has just been announced.

1932 The power vacuum left in Tunisia when President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali left is becoming ever more apparent, our correspondent adds.

1930 The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Tunis has given more details on the continuing political unrest there. Under the old constitution, acting president Fouad Mebazaa should have stood down after 60 days, but he has said that law is no longer valid, so he will stay in place until his successor is elected.

1924 Martin Chulov continues: "The captured mercenaries said they had entered #libya through an air force base in the south."

1923 The Guardian's Martin Chulov tweets: "Rebels captured 6 african mercenaries in eastern libya today. Almost summarily executed them. A colleague stopped things."

1918 If you want to remind yourself of those events, we still have complete special report pages on Egypt and Tunisia, with all the background information and analysis on the unrest which influenced the far messier Libyan revolt.

1915 And in Tunisia, acting President Fouad Mebazaa has said he is committed to continuing his duties until elections are held, state TV reports.

1910 Of course Tunisia and Egypt are still undergoing the process of rebuilding their countries after their own revolutions. Egypt's state TV is reporting that the stock exchange, closed amid the January unrest, will stay closed for the time being.

1900 More on that Venezuelan offer - Reuters is citing a senior Venezuelan government source as saying they hope Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could lead the mediation.

1858 "We will never negotiate with anybody on the blood of our people. The only way we can negotiate with Chavez is if Gaddafi goes to Venezuela," said Mr Gheriani. "Then we'll ask him to have Gaddafi back in Libya to be prosecuted by our justice."

1856 Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the anti-Gaddafi council in Benghazi has told AFP they reject Venezuela's offer of mediation because "too much blood has been spilt".

1853Tunisia says the repatriation of the people fleeing Libya is too slow, AFP reports. Mohamed Ennaceur, social affairs minister, has called on the international community to "avoid a humanitarian crisis" and increase the number of "air and sea shuttles".

1848 Another Somalia, Abdirahman, said security had become a major problem where he lives, an area with a Somali population of about 150. "There are youths with guns outside our house and we are scared to venture outside," he said. Abdirahman said some people had been taken out of their houses. "We don't know whether they were killed or not."

1844 Somali migrants in Libya have been telling the BBC's Somali service they feel abandoned by their country. "As Somali refugees we have no country to return to because of the war in our country. We are in a terrible situation," said one.

1839 The anti-Gaddafi National Libyan Council in eastern Libya has responded to Venezuela's offer to mediate talks with Col Gaddafi. Senior council figure Ahmed Jabreel told Reuters they will only discuss the leader's resignation or exile. "There is nothing else to negotiate," he said.

1835 We're also hearing from Spain that a Spanish flight carrying five tonnes of aid is about to arrive at Libya's Djeba airport. Canal 24 Horas says the plane will then shuttle between Djerba and Cairo three times a day to take Egyptians home.

1832 Mr Obama concluded: "We will continue to send a clear message: the violence must stop. Muammar Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave. Those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will be held accountable. The aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy and dignity must be met."

1831"I've also directed USAID to send humanitarian assistance teams to the Libyan border so they can work with the UN, NGOs and other international partners inside Libya to address the urgent needs of the Libyan people."

1828 Mr Obama was speaking at a press conference in Washington. He said he had also authorised US AID, the state humanitarian agency, to charter civilian aircraft "to help people from other countries to find their way home".

1825 President Barack Obama has just said he has approved the use of US military aircraft to transport Egyptians home from the Tunisian border.

1821Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm Mike Mullen had said there was no evidence that this was happening.

1819 Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan has said it is now "very obvious" that the Gaddafi regime is using airpower against its people, but that it was unclear whether strikes were targeting rebels or civilians.

1814 Libyan state TV reports that the country's supreme judicial council has held an extraordinary meeting to discuss recent events and the UN resolution.

1806 More on that WFP ship which was unable to dock at Benghazi. WFP spokesman Greg Barrow told AFP the owners of the ship, chartered by the food agency, had taken the decision to pull back because of "concerns about the reports of aerial bombardments".

1803 CNN has an interesting report on how foreign companies go about getting their employees out of a country during a crisis like this. "The whole idea of protecting companies in volatile areas is to be prepared for any eventuality," writes Dan Mitchell.

1758 The World Food Programme says a ship carrying 1,000 tonnes of flour to Benghazi has had to turn back without unloading its cargo because of aerial bombardments, AFP reports.

1755 BBC World Affairs correspondent Peter Biles says any Libyan acceptance of the Venezuelan offer of mediation is likely to be greeted with scepticism by the EU. "They may fear that protracted diplomacy and perhaps a military stalemate in Libya won't bring an immediate end to the violence and could further destabilise the region."

1751 More from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who, as we mentioned earlier, has said Libya is "on the brink of civil war". (See 1523.) He has praised the operation to evacuate Russians. "The fact that we managed to get all our people out fast and efficiently and, most importantly, without any losses, deserves the highest praise."

1744 Mr Kaberuka continued: "Where we got it wrong was not addressing the issue of social inclusion. These were countries growing at 5 or 6%, but the benefits were not spread in all the regions or all the sections of the populations."

1740 Youth unemployment has been a huge catalyst for the unrest across the region, with well-educated young people finding themselves with no way of getting work and inevitably becoming frustrated with their standard of life.

1739 The BBC's Focus on Africa has been speaking to the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, about the uprisings in North Africa. Asked whether the AfDB had failed the region in his development mission, Dr Kaberuka said: "I totally plead guilty that all development institutions ... will have to change gear on this issue of youth unemployment."

1735 Anjucomet, a correspondent with Democracy Now! at the Libyan border, tweets: "Nearly 2000 ghanaians and 3000 bangladeshis here sleeping in the cold with barely any food/water...Refugees all have horror stories of the violence they fled in benghazi."

1728 Increasingly, people we've been speaking to have been unwilling for us to use their full names, fearing possible reprisals against them or their families.

1724 He said at the start of the uprising, the anti-Gaddafi protesters were perhaps "somewhat naive", thinking events would unfold much as they had in Egypt. "But no - the regime used live ammunition at first," he said. "I know two people who lost relatives there."

1722 Khaled, in the UK, says he is angry by the Gaddafi regime's continuing denial that people are being attacked. "I spoke to a friend in Tripoli last night. Gaddafi has given free hand to shoot any demonstrators."

1720 He continued: "I'm talking about the harbour and the oil refinery there. Nobody would allow the militia to control Brega. It's like allowing someone to control Rotterdam harbour in Holland."

1718 Col Gaddafi's media-savvy son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, has been speaking to Sky News. He said the bombing of Brega was "just to frighten" opposition forces trying to take control of oil facilities.

1713 The Telegraph's Rob Crilly, is in Djerba in Tunisia, from where many Egyptians are being evacuated: "Thousands of French and German tourists are playing golf and frolicking in Tunisia's azure waters, surrounded by a humanitarian crisis caused by a vast tide of people fleeing Libya's unrest."

1707 The UK Foreign Office is investigating reports that a British father of seven was among those killed in Brega on Wednesday. Khaled Attghdi's family told the BBC he had travelled to Libya to help relatives caught up in the unrest.

1705 Another Tripoli resident, Mohamed, told BBC News: "I'm a black migrant and have been living here for more than three years. However now, because there was talk of black mercenaries working for the Libyan government, innocent people like myself are being targeted. Most of us have to stay indoors. We can't get out of our houses. Some of us have been chased in the streets - I know of several people who have been injured."

1656 Two residents of the Libyan capital Tripoli have been talking to BBC News about the eerie atmosphere in the city. Rawad said: "It may be very quiet but it is very scary still. We can't go out in the daytime so we try to go out at night, but people are dying or being arrested. On Friday, after prayers, we are looking forward to going out and taking part in some action."

1650 Muhammad min Libya, writing on the Guardian's Comment is Free, says: "One thing seems to have united Libyans of all stripes; any military intervention on the ground by any foreign force would be met - as Mustafa Abud Al Jeleil, the former justice minister and head of the opposition-formed interim government, said - with fighting much harsher than what the mercenaries themselves have unleashed."

1646 Meanwhile in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which has seen weeks of street protests inspired by the unrest in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, a coalition of opposition groups has proposed a plan to end the country's political crisis. The five-point plan would involve embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down by the end of the year. The government has yet to respond, AP news agency reports.

1632 The UN Human Rights Council has postponed issuing its report on Libya in the wake of criticism that it contains praise for the country's human rights record, AP news agency reports. The council said it would hold off on adopting the report on Libya after critics said it was too soft. The report was prepared before the recent uprisings in Libya and the violent crackdown on protesters.

1625 Sir Christopher warned that the decision by the International Criminal Court to investigate Colonel Gaddafi for crimes against humanity could easily backfire. "It could make Gaddafi and his sons dig in deeper, because what have they got to lose? If they leave Libya they know there will be prosecutors waiting for them in The Hague."

1622 Sir Christopher said the crisis is more likely to be solved by mediation through people close to Colonel Gaddafi. "There is more to be done by working through the Arab world, through the Arab League, and through people who know Gaddafi," said the former British ambassador, mentioning Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as one possible option.

1616 Sir Christopher Meyer, the former UK ambassador to Washington, has told BBC News that a no-fly zone over Libya is not practical "politically or militarily". "Cold water has been poured on the idea by Russia, who have a veto in the UN Security Council, and where the Russians go the Chinese tend to follow. We've also heard dampening noises from Washington. So right now it doesn't look like a no-fly zone would be practical politically, leaving aside the military difficulties."

1604 Abbas Al Lawati tweets: "Official at Benghazi's makeshift military camp says over 5,000 youths have volunteered to take up arms against the Qaddafi regime#Libya".

1600 More now from Venezuela, where Information Minister Andres Izarra says the Arab League has also shown interest in President Hugo Chavez's plan to send an international commission to talk with both sides in Libya. "We can confirm Libya's interest in accepting this proposal, as well as the Arab League's interest," he told AFP news agency. "Today Venezuela presses ahead with its agenda in the Arab world and the world at large to seek peace in Libya."

1553 Reporting from Benghazi, the BBC's Lyse Doucet tweets: "Heard some anxious Libyans at HQ National Council Benghazi saying some family members being picked up in Tripoli".

1549 More now on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's proposal to mediate a solution to the Libyan crisis. According to Reuters news agency, Venezuela has announced that Colonel Gaddafi has accepted Mr Chavez's offer. This follows a similar report by al-Jazeera this morning.

1534 In the US, petrol prices jumped another 4 cents on Thursday to a new national average of $3.43 (£2.10) per gallon, fuelled by the unrest in Libya. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), pump prices have climbed more than 29 cents per gallon since the Libyan uprising began in the middle of February, costing Americans an extra $108m (£66m) per day to buy the same amount of fuel.

1523 Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said Libya is on the verge of civil war - one of the starkest warnings yet by a world leader. The events in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt have resurrected Russian fears of revolution at home, according to the political commentary website .

1514 A hundred soldiers loyal to Colonel Gaddafi were taken prisoner by rebels in the town of Brega yesterday, AFP news agency reports. "We have taken many prisoners, not less than one hundred," said a spokesman for the rebels, in Benghazi.

1507 An aircraft chartered by France has left Tunisia for Cairo with 168 Egyptian refugees aboard, AFP news agency reports. The refugees had been stranded at the Tunisian-Libyan border.

1502 Mr Juppe conceded that NATO forces would not be welcomed in the southern Mediterranean, and could be "counterproductive". "That said, given the threats from Colonel Gaddafi, we have to be in a position to react and that is why we agreed to plans for a no-fly zone over Libya," the foreign minister said.

1458 Mr Juppe warned Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that France and Britain would press for the imposition of a no-fly zone if attacks against Libya's citizens continued, but only if the move was endorsed by a UN Security Council decision.

1451 France has rejected an offer by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to mediate in Libya. "Any mediation that allows Colonel Gaddafi to succeed himself is obviously not welcome," said Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in response to Chavez's proposal. It follows reports that Mr Gaddafi had accepted an offer from Mr Chavez to mediate the crisis in Libya.

1443 Almost 200,000 migrants have crossed from Libya into Tunisia, Egypt and Niger since the violence in the country broke out, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). But tens of thousands of foreign nationals are still stranded in the country. Groups of Filipinos, Vietnamese, Sri Lankans, Nepalese as well as Sub-Saharan Africans are stranded in large numbers in Sirte, Tripoli, Wazem and Misrata as well as elsewhere, the IOM said.

1435 In Saudi Arabia, the unrest in the region has sent shock waves through the country's stock market, with stocks down by about 20% even though the price of oil is rising. But the Saudi government is not concerned, according to Saudi Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja, who spoke to Laura Lynch of Public Radio International.

1423 The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the risk of disease epidemics among thousands of refugees gathered in southern Tunisia after fleeing violence in Libya. "There are all the ingredients for an epidemic explosion," said Eric Laroche, WHO assistant director general, after a visit to the zone where refugees are camped.

1412 The UN Refugee Agency tweets: "Over 50 planes are flying thousands of Egyptians home from Tunisia in next 24 hours"

1407 Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has been speaking about the unrest in Libya at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington. "We are on the side of the ordinary citizens [in Libya] who want to control their lives and at last have a say," said Mr Sikorski. "We Poles know something about democratic change."

1357 AFP news agency reports that the European Union has earmarked 30m euros ($42m, £26m) to help refugees from Libya.

1352 Following their meeting, Mr Juppe held a joint press conference with Mr Hague, who said Britain and France were working on "bold and ambitious" proposals to present to a European Union meeting on Libya next week.

1345 The foreign minister in question is Alain Juppe, who has been holding talks on Libya in Paris today with his UK counterpart, William Hague. We'll have more on his announcement as we get it.

1337 The French Foreign Minister says France and the UK would support a no-fly zone over Libya if the situation worsens, Reuters news agency reports.

1328 From oil to weaponry: it's emerged from Russia that the country's arms industry stands to lose some $4bn in exports because of the Libya unrest.

1326 Libyan oil production has been "halved" because of the unrest nationwide, the head of the National Oil Corporation, Shukri Ghanem, tells AFP. Libya normally produces 1.6 million barrels per day, AFP says, but has seen capacity plummet as foreign workers have fled the country.

1318 More from our world affairs editor John Simpson at the rebel frontline at Agayla. The line of command is very vague, he says. In Brega earlier this morning the colonel there was mostly concerned with rescuing two prisoners, supposedly mercenaries, from being lynched by his own men.

1313 Tristan Redman of al-Jazeera English tweets: "At funeral procession in #ajdabiya. Dead from yesterday's fighting. At least 6 coffins here #libya"

1300 More from BBC Monitoring: State media are continuing to air comments from citizens - and foreigners - condemning foreign media for their "lying" coverage. A French woman from the faculty at Sirte University said in spite of her country's view, all the protests taking place are pro-Gaddafi. Al-Libyah TV hosted a round table of poets addressing the "tribes related to us" and saying that "we are all one family".

1259 BBC Monitoring has picked up an intruiging report from al-Libya TV, the state TV channel: it says a mind-boggling 37 billion sedative pills have been seized at a Libyan port. Col Gaddafi has publicly accused protesters and rebels of being under the influence of drugs brought into the country by al-Qaeda.

1247 In Brega a BBC Arabic reporter has been told that reinforcements have been arriving in the town from Benghazi and Adjabiya. Dr Abdel Karim al-Moghrabi said 11 people had been killed on Wednesday, including three mercenaries.

1239 More on the humanitarian situation, and specifically Italian concerns about large-scale migration from North Africa. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said today that while Italy wanted to help people before they made any journey to Europe, it was prepared for an influx of pople displaced from Libya. "We've got a Plan B ready. Authorities are putting together a plan to handle the immigrants should they arrive," Mr Maroni said.

1227More from Mr Moreno-Ocampo: "We have some information that some opposition groups have also weapons. I like to be clear: if opposition groups commit crimes they will also be investigated. We will be impartial."

1220 Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and key aides are to be investigated as part of world court probe.

1215 ICC chief prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo: "We have a mandate to do justice and we will do it. There will be no impunity."

1212 International Criminal Court says senior Libyan figures are "on notice" that they will be liable to prosecution for crimes against humanity if forces under their command commit abuses.

1210 International Criminal Court announces formal opening of investigation into alleged abuses in Libya.

1206 Our world affairs editor John Simpson is now reporting from Agayda, at a checkpoint he describes as the furthest point the rebels have reached. Recounting the sight of burnt-out vehicles along the side of the road, he says Libyan government forces are some 100 miles away in the town of Ras Lanouf - but there seems to be no rebel determination to move onwards towards a confrontation at this stage.

1200 From London, BBC political correspondent Jo Coburn reports that Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman has rejected the suggestion that the British government is isolated for looking at the possibility of a no-fly zone over Libya. Asked whether the government's view on no-fly zones had changed (following comments overnight by US defence secretary Robert Gates, Mr Cameron's spokesman said it was still being discussed as part of "contingency planning".

1150 British Foreign Secretary William Hague tweets: "In Paris to meet new French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe to discuss next phase of action against violence in Libya."

1149 Doug Saunders, of Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, tweets from the Bangladeshi camp at the Libyan-Tunisian border: "Food warehouse: enough for thousands for the next few hours... But the food queue stretches 500m, constantly..."

1143 A little more information from Brega about this morning's air strikes, via AFP: Fattah al-Moghrabi, director of supplies for Brega hospital, said a bomb was dropped in an area between the oil company and the residential part of the town. No-one was hurt, he said.

1139 Mike Browne, who works on the construction project at Misrata University and was evacuated from Libya on an Italian warship, writes about his colleagues left behind: "I have just heard that the evacuation of the last 600 is happening now. They include Filipinos, Vietnamese Algerians and Indians. The company, Impregilo, has chartered a commercial vessel from the port but is keeping the destination under wraps."
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1126 Our colleagues at BBC Arabic inform us of a Libyan state TV broadcast from a university campus in Sirte. A number of foreign residents, students and professors were interviewed. All seemed in good health, with one telling her interviewer that there was "no crisis" and that events were being "wrongly reported by certain (TV) channels".

1109 Our correspondent Jon Leyne adds that there is not likely to be a move on Tripoli from Benghazi rebels at this stage: rebels are still organising the defence of Benghazi, he says, and any move to Tripoli would have to get through the government stronghold of Sirte first.

1108 From Benghazi, the BBC's Jon Leyne says there seems to be a new confidence among rebels on the edge of the city that they can hold their ground against government forces.

1102 And in more evidence of how the rebellion is challenging Western officials, the Los Angeles Times reports on a simple problem confounding US efforts to support Libya's rebels: US diplomats don't know who to speak to, apparently.

1059 The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus on the emerging impasse in Libya: "Colonel Gadhafi appears unable to re-capture the eastern part of his country. And for now his opponents seem unable to mount a major offensive against Tripoli. A stalemate on the ground in Libya could be a serious problem for international diplomacy... There's a danger that having painted the Libyan leader into a corner, he may well have little option but to cling on to power for as long as he can."

1048 There are few details about this morning's reports of air strikes on Brega and Adjamiya. However, rebels were reported as saying pro-Gaddafi forces were in Ras Lanuf, another oil terminal town to the west of Brega, and were preparing another attack.

1037 Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on the proposed Hugo Chavez peace plan: "We have been informed of President Chavez's plan but it is still under consideration. We consulted several leaders yesterday."

1035More details emerging from the Tunisia border, via the AFP news ageny: Germany says it will send three ships to evacuate 4,000 Egyptians, and Spain promises to fly out a humanitarian aid shipment. It will then use that plane to help stranded people back to their countries, AFP says.

1022 At the border between Libya and Tunisia the BBC's Jim Muir is reporting on how humanitarian efforts are progressing. More than 90,000 people have taken refuge there in the past week, he says. Now a transit camp is providing temporary shelter for around 15,000 people as they wait for flights or ships to take them home. There should be more than 50 flights going out on Thursday to Cairo alone, Jim Muir says.

1017 The anti-Gaddafi transitional council has asked the UN for permission to bomb the mercenaries, al-Arabiya TV says.

1011 Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, has been prominent during the recent unrest. Amid growing concern at the London School of Economics, where he studied for a PhD, Foreign Policy reports on what it calls Saif al-Gaddafi's fall from grace .

1001 Martin Chulov of the Guardian tweets: "More bombings in Brega and Ajdabiya today. Jets continue to be the curse of the rebels. #libya"

1000 Rebels have refused an offer of talks with Col Gaddafi, al-Jazeera reports. The chairman of the newly formed National Libyan Council has reportedly rejected the concept of talks entirely.

0952 There's a full quote now from Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh-Rasmussen: "I would like to stress that Nato does not have any intention to intervene but as a defence alliance and security organisation we do prudent planning for all eventualities."

0945 The AFP news agency reports that Nato - already deeply engaged in Afghanistan of course - has no "intent" to intervene in Libya, but is planning for all eventualities.

0941 And a legal angle on the Libyan issue is emerging from Madrid: chief prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo tells Spanish newspaper El Pais the International Criminal Court will soon name between 10 and 15 people to face investigation for war crimes over recent events in Libya.

0936 The situation at the Libyan-Tunisian border has continued to deteriorate in recent days. Today, though, planes chartered by the have begun flying people out of Tunisia, and are expected to take up to 6,000 Egyptians to Cairo in the coming days.

0924 It has emerged that three Dutch soldiers have been taken prisoner in Libya while attempting to extract foreign nationals. The soldiers were seized on Sunday but news has only just been released. Radio Netherlands has more .

0918 Also from Ajdabiya: officials at the town's morge told the Associated Press that 14 people have now died in recent fighting.

0911 Reuters also reports an air attack against rebel positions at Ajdabiyah.

0908 Reports coming in of air strikes against the airport at Brega in eastern Libya.

0856 From Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, news that Silvio Berlusconi's government is considering the logistics of sending a humanitarian aid ship to Benghazi. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a ship could sail "as soon as security conditions are favourable".

0849 The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bown remains in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. He says the atmosphere in the capital suggests Col Gaddafi is coming up with quite an effective strategy for at least slowing down the protests. By using deadly force his security forces have created a strong disincentive against coming out to demonstrate, our correspondent says.

0841 The Venezuela link is the second time the Latin American nation has featured in the story of the Libyan revolt. Earlier in the uprising UK Foreign Secretary William Hague reported intelligence that suggested the Libyan leader had left his country and headed for Caracas - a tip-off that quickly proved not to be true.

0838 One interesting report this morning concerns Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The al-Jazeera news channel reports that Mr Chavez has offered to mediate a solution to the situation in Libya - and that Col Gaddafi has accepted.

0830 If you need a quick recap on Libya's geography and where its key oil, military and population centres are, take a look at our key maps of Libya .

0828 Along the road from Brega towards Tripoli rebels are reported to have been reinforcing positions around the town of Adjabiya. Air strikes were reported around Adjabiya on Wednesday. This morning Reuters news agency reports that rebels worked through the night to establish air and ground defences at the entrance to the town.

0820 Amid calls from Western politicians for a no-fly zone to be established over Libya, the New York Times has this account of a strident note of caution issued in Washington by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. "Let's just call a spade a spade," Mr Gates said. "A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defences. That's the way you do a no-fly zone."

0815 The opposition seems to be getting their act together, Jon Leyne reports, forming a national council and suggesting they are preparing to move against Tripoli. In contrast to Egypt's revolution, the situation in Libya seems to be developing into a more conventional armed conflict, he says.

0810 From Benghazi, the main city in Lbya's east, BBC's Jon Leyne notes that Wednesday's event in Brega show once again how rebels can overrun regular army forces, which are in theory better-armed and better-trained.

0805 As he spoke army units were battling poorly armed rebels in the east of Libya. In the town of Brega, which was attacked during the morning, rebels managed to fight off government forces.

0803 The eyes of the world are once again on Libya, where Col Gaddafi made another defiant speech on Wednesday. He spoke at a rally in Tripoli, warning that foreign intervention in the country would not be tolerated.

0800 Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of events in Libya, where the country's ruler for the past 41 years, Col Muammar Gaddafi, yesterday fought back against rebels in the east. Stay with us for the latest updates - reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and your reaction from around the world. You can contact us via email, text or twitter. We'll publish what we can.

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