Cairo/Tripoli, March 9 (IANS) Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi launched air strikes on a major oil export terminal held by anti-government protesters, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday quoting Al Jazeera.
The air strikes near rebel positions east of the oil port of Ras Lanuf follow similar attacks Monday and Tuesday.
The rebels demanding Gaddafi’s ouster took control of Ras Lanuf last week. A rebel spokesman said an offer by Gaddafi’s representatives to negotiate the Libyan leader’s exit had been rejected.
In recorded comments broadcast on state television Wednesday, Gaddafi accused the US, Britain and France of planning to seize Libya’s oil and wealth.
When questioned on the stand taken by Western powers, Gaddafi said they “want to colonise Libya again”. “It’s a colonialist plot.”
Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd Wednesday joined foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council to call on the UN Security Council to impose the no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians.
A UN resolution on the no-fly zone is to be debated by NATO defence ministers later this week.
Libya is reeling under massive anti-government protests since Feb 14. The protesters are demanding the ouster of Gaddafi who has ruled the north African country for 42 years.
According to one estimate, the violent clashes between anti-government protesters and pro-Gaddafi troops have claimed over 6,000 lives. The UN says around 200,000 people have been displaced by the violence.