NATO Rejects Qaddafi Truce Offer, Clears Mines From Misrata Port

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s forces must stop their attacks on civilians before it considers his latest offer of a cease-fire.

“Just hours before Colonel Qaddafi spoke of a truce, his forces indiscriminately shelled Misrata, killing many people, including children,” said a NATO official who declined to be named, citing policy. “All this has to stop, and it has to stop now.”

NATO foreign ministers have made it clear that the alliance will continue operations “until all of Qaddafi’s forces, including his snipers, mercenaries and paramilitary forces, have returned to their bases,” said the official.

Qaddafi said he’ll stay in the North African nation where his people want “martyrdom or victory” in the face of a rebel insurgency that began in mid-February.

“I don’t have a post to leave,” Qaddafi said in a speech on Libyan state television broadcast by Al Arabiya television today. “If I had a post, I would have ended like Mubarak or Ben Ali,” he said, referring to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who were forced to step down in the face of popular protests earlier this year.

Qaddafi’s forces yesterday fought rebels for control of a border crossing with Tunisia and mined the harbor of Misrata to block the only outside access to the besieged coastal city.

The mines were laid two to three kilometers (1.2miltes to 1.9 miles) offshore, detected by NATO, and are now being disposed of onsite, NATO said in a statement posted on its website. The temporary closing of the port prevented two humanitarian ships from docking, NATO said.

“The mining of a civilian port by pro-Qaddafi forces is clearly designed to disrupt the lawful flow of humanitarian aid to the innocent civilian people of Libya,” Italian Navy Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri said in the statement.
Al Jazeera