10 March 2011

France recognises Libyan rebels

France has become the first country to recognise the Libyan rebel leadership, the National Libyan Council (NLC), as the country's legitimate government.
It came as Nato met to discuss military options in the Libyan conflict including a possible no-fly zone.
There is growing concern about the bombing of rebel-held areas by the forces of Col Muammar Gaddafi.
A BBC team detained and beaten up in Libya witnessed widespread mistreatment by the security forces.
In recent days, pro-Gaddafi forces have tried to regain ground in the rebel-held east, and have bombarded rebel forces in the town of Zawiya, 50km (30 miles) west of Tripoli.
Continued shelling  The president of the International Red Cross said on Thursday there was a marked increase in civilian casualties in what he called a "civil war".
The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Paris regarded the NLC as Libya's "legitimate representative".

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He said if I say one word in English, he would kill me”
End Quote Feras Killani BBC Arabic correspondent
Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, said the French move was "breaking the ice", adding that he expected other EU members to follow suit.
However Italy and Spain have said they will not take a similar step until European Union members have reached a common position on the issue.
EU foreign ministers will also hold talks in Brussels, ahead of a European Council summit on Friday.
France's announcement came amid fresh fighting on the ground between Col Gaddafi's forces and the rebels.
On Thursday, government troops launched fresh attacks on the rebel-held eastern oil port of Ras Lanuf.
Government planes also bombed Brega, another oil town further east, indicating that pro-Gaddafi forces are making further advances into rebel-held territory, Reuters news agency reported.
There has also been fierce fighting in Zawiya in recent days. On Wednesday, state TV said the army had retaken the town, which had been in rebel hands .
Mock executions Late on Wednesday, three members of a BBC Arabic television team gave graphic accounts of how they were arrested and beaten by government forces outside Zawiya earlier this week.
heavy machine gun
They were subjected to mock executions and held for 26 hours in bloodstained cells, where they heard people screaming in adjacent rooms.
Feras Killani - a member of the BBC team who is of Palestinian descent - appears to have been singled out for repeated beatings.
The conflict in Libya has raged since mid-February when opponents to Col Gaddafi's 41-year rule seized many towns and cities in eastern Libya, following successful popular uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.
BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says fears that the military balance may be shifting in Col Gaddafi's favour have prompted calls for urgent international action.
Thursday's Nato meeting in Brussels is expected to focus on military options, including a possible no-fly zone aimed at stopping government planes bombing rebel-held towns.
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On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the CBS TV network: "We believe it's important that this not be an American or a Nato or a European effort. It needs to be an international one."
Our correspondent says there are differing

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