Ban urges Libya authorities to stop killing, seek ceasefire

During visit to Moscow, UN secretary general denounces violence; NATO forces intercept oil tanker as rebels pledge to accept ground forces.

April 21, 2011 18:20
2 minute read.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Joshua Lott)


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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged the Libyan authorities to "stop fighting and stop killing people" and said the world body's priority was to secure a ceasefire.

"At this time our priority is to bring about a verifiable and effective ceasefire, and then we can expand our humanitarian assistance, and we are going to engage in political dialogue," Ban said during an official visit to the Russian capital.

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"I urge the Libyan authorities to stop fighting and stop killing people."

Also on Thursday, NATO forces intercepted a Libyan oil tanker, Libyan state news agency Jana said.

Jana gave no details of where or when the incident took place, nor what the ship was carrying.

"NATO forces carried out a barbaric piracy operation against a Libyan oil tanker and used violence and terrorism against its crew, in violation of international norms and (UN) Security Council resolutions," Jana said.

Thirteen Libyan officers and soldiers, including a general, turned themselves over to the Tunisian military at a border crossing after clashes with Libyan rebels, Tunisia's state news agency TAP said on Thursday.

TAP cited a military source, but gave no further details.

Earlier on Thursday, two witnesses in the southern Tunisian border town of Dehiba said the rebels appeared to have taken control of the Libyan side of the border crossing after fighting with forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

Rebels appeared to take control of the Libyan side of a border crossing with Tunisia, in a remote region where they have been fighting government forces, two witnesses on the Tunisian side said on Thursday.

They were speaking from the Tunisian border town of Dehiba, where thousands of refugees have arrived in recent days from a region of Libya known as the Western Mountains.

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turmoil in the Middle East

"We see rebels who control the border crossing," one Tunisian witness, who gave his name as Ali, told Reuters by phone. He said there had been fierce clashes near the border since Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, Libyan rebels announced they would not object to the presence of foreign ground forces to protect a safe haven for civilians, a senior rebel spokesman said on Wednesday.

"Protecting civilians requires having safe passages to deliver humanitarian supplies," National Council spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told a news conference in Benghazi broadcast on Al Jazeera. "If that (protecting civilians) does not come except through ground forces that will ensure this safe haven, then there is no harm in that at all."

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