Libya offers Misrata rebels amnesty, respects Tunisia

Proposal comes after pro-Gaddafi forces clash with Tunisian military, fire shells into town of Dehiba; buildings damaged, at least one injured.

By REUTERS
April 30, 2011 00:28
2 minute read.
Libyan rebel with anti-aircraft gun

Libyan rebel with anti-aircraft gun 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

 
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The Libyan government said on Friday it had taken control of Misrata's port and warned rebels in the besieged city they faced further bloodshed unless they handed in their weapons in four days and received a pardon.

Libya was coordinating with the Tunisian government to prevent a disaster on the border, government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told reporters. He blamed the rebels for border violations and pledged respect for Tunisia's sovereignty. Ibrahim also urged any foreign fighters to leave the country or we will "finish you off."

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Earlier on Friday. forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi crossed into Tunisia and fought a gun battle with Tunisian troops in a frontier town as Libya's conflict spilled beyond its borders.

Pro-Gaddafi forces fired shells into the town of Dehiba, damaging buildings and injuring at least one resident, and a group of them drove into the town in a truck, local people and a Reuters photographer in the town said.

The Libyan government troops were pursuing anti-Gaddafi rebels from the restive Western Mountains region of Libya who fled into Tunisia in the past few days after Gaddafi forces overran the border post the rebels had earlier seized.

Tunisia's government late on Thursday issued a statement condemning incursions by Libyan forces after shells fired by Gaddafi loyalists fell into the desert near the border.

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"Given the gravity of what has happened... the Tunisian authorities have informed the Libyans of their extreme indignation and demand measures to put an immediate stop to these violations," a statement from the foreign ministry said.

Friday's clashes marked the first time that Libyan government ground forces had crossed the border and entered a Tunisian town.

Residents said that a crowd of local people gathered in Dehiba on Friday morning to try to prevent pro-Gaddafi forces from entering the town.

They said the Tunisian military fired in the air to disperse them, and urged the demonstrators to seek shelter from the shelling inside their homes.

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