Anti-Gaddafi rebels take over city closest to Tripoli

Protesters fly flag over Zawiyah town square; UK revokes Gaddafi and family's diplomatic immunity; 100,000 refugees flee Libya amid violence.

By REUTERS
February 27, 2011 14:01
1 minute read.
Libyan protesters shout slogans against Gaddafi

Libyan Protesters holding sign 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

ZAWIYAH, Libya - Armed men opposed to the rule of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are in control of the city of Zawiyah, about 30 miles west of the capital Tripoli, a Reuters reporter in the town said.

The red, green and black flag of Libya's anti-Gaddafi rebellion was flying from a building in the centre of the town and a crowd of several hundred people was chanting "This is our revolution," the reporter said.

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Also on Sunday, the British government revoked the diplomatic immunity in the UK of Gaddafi and his sons, Foreign Secretary William Hague said, urging Gaddafi to step down.

"Of course it is time for Col. Gaddafi to go," Hague said in a BBC interview.

"That is the best hope for Libya and last night I signed a directive revoking his diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom, but also the diplomatic immunity of his sons, his family, his household, so it's very clear where we stand on his status as a head of state," he said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Sunday that nearly 100,000 people have fled violence in Libya in the past week, streaming into Tunisia and Egypt in a growing humanitarian crisis.

They include Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and third country nationals including Chinese and other Asians. About half of the 100,000 have gone to Tunisia and half to Egypt.

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"We call upon the international community to respond quickly and generously to enable these governments to cope with this humanitarian emergency," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.

The Geneva-based UNHCR began an airlift of shelter and other relief supplies on Saturday night to Djerba, Tunisia, and the aid will be brought to the Libyan border, it said.


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