Power, petrol shortages in Tripoli irk Libyans

Deputy Foreign Minister: NATO responsible for starving and displacing the Libyan people, causing a humanitarian crisis in nation's capital.

Tripoli rocked by explosions (photo credit: REUTERS)
Tripoli rocked by explosions
(photo credit: REUTERS)
TRIPOLI - The Libyan capital has been rocked by a series of explosions on Sunday night. Libyan state television said NATO air strikes had hit civilian and military targets in Tripoli.
Power and petrol shortages gripped Tripoli on Sunday as well, giving rise to frustration as the months of conflict with NATO-backed rebels take their toll on a city that is the seat of embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi's power.
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The Gaddafi government blames NATO airstrikes and the rebels backed by the alliance in a bid to end Gaddafi's 41-year-rule for the shortages.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told reporters this week that power shortages were caused by NATO strikes on power turbines and rebel attacks on pipelines.
"These attacks are aimed at starving and displacing the Libyan people and causing a humanitarian crisis. What do power lines have to do with military battles or protecting civilians?" Kaim said.
"It is unethical what NATO is doing for all the world to see. But Libyans, thank God, know who really is behind this."
The message has sunk in with at least some segments of the Tripoli public. Vegetable merchant Abdul Salim Tarhouni said his home goes without power for many hours at a time, and he blames the airstrikes.
"We have no fuel, no cars, and it's all NATO's fault," he said. "It's okay, though -- even if we have to go without water, we will stand by our leader."
Many residents have no air conditioning during peak summer heat and no refrigeration as they prepare for evening meals during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Some areas of the Libyan capital are getting as little as four hours of power a day, residents said this week.
The sudden deterioration in electricity supplies is piling pressure on Libyans already grappling with the impact of the Gaddafi government's increasing isolation and almost six months of civil conflict that has torn this North African country in two and brought punishing NATO airstrikes.