Libya suffers continued bombardment as humanitarian situation worsens

A series of blasts rocked Tripoli overnight Monday into early Tuesday as warplanes roared over the capital of the violence-wracked North African country.

Libyan officials said that four children were injured by flying glass shards as a result of the apparent NATO air strikes, including two who were seriously hurt and had been put in intensive care in the hospital.

A government building which had been previously bombed was destroyed. A guard at the scene said that the structure housed a number of civil society organizations, including the High Commission for Children.

Hundreds of steps away, a telecommunications tower which Libyan officials said was used for mobile phone services was also toppled.

The latest Tripoli bombardment followed a day which, according to the rebel officials, saw NATO planes strike government weapons depots in the Western Mountains region and some other targets east of Misrata, the only rebel-controlled city in western Libya.

Heavy fighting was also reported on Monday near the eastern town of Ajdabiya, located some 150 km south of Benghazi, the second largest Libyan city and the rebel headquarters.

Nearly two months after the foreign intervention started, the situation on the ground shows that a stalemate has emerged with neither Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's troops nor the ragtag rebels able to make significant gains in the battlefield.

Meanwhile, the persistent fighting has worsened the humanitarian situation in the North African country. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos on Monday called for a humanitarian temporary pause of all parties involved.

"All parties need to give a temporary pause in the conflict in Misrata and other areas," the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs told the UN Security Council in an open meeting on Libya.

"This would provide respite from violence for the civilian population and enable those who wish to leave to do so," Amos said, adding that it would also enable the delivery of essential medical supplies and other relief items.

"Widespread shortages are paralyzing the country in ways that will impact greatly on the general population in the months ahead," Amos warned.

More than 746,000 people, most of them third-country nationals, have fled the country, while some 5,000 people remain stranded at border points, she noted.

"Approximately, 68,000 internally displaced people are living in spontaneous settlements in eastern areas of Libya," she added.

Commenting on the Libyan situation on Sunday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen admitted that there is "no military solution solely" and that "a political solution" is needed to put an end to the conflict.

NATO and Western leaders have insisted that Gaddafi must go, but the goal is accused of overshooting the parameters of the UN Security Council resolution that green-lighted the intervention in March.

The UN mandate was granted to protect Libyan civilians, but the intervening countries have obviously turned the mission into one to help the rebels overthrow the Libyan government, which is still recognized by the UN.

[Source: Xinhua, Tripoli, 10May11]

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