It looked Friday like NATO and the U.N. had given Muammar Gaddafi the rope to hang himself. His government said it had stopped attacking rebel strongholds and would observe a ceasefire.
It quickly became clear it was another ruse. If it was meant to gain time, it seemed unlikely to work it was to allow the dictator to flee.
After declaring the ceasefire Libya also virtually admitted it had lied about the whereabouts of four missing New York Times journalists. It said it had them and they would be released. Gaddafi’s forces had previously detained a BBC team and assaulted its three members in its efforts to curtail coverage.
Al Jazeera reported residents of Misurata had called them to report bombing had continued and claimed at least 25 lives Friday. “The Gaddafi forces are at the outskirts of the city but they continue to shell the centre of the city,” he said. “The ceasefire has not taken place; he [Gaddafi] is still continuing up until now to shell and kill the people in the ,” Abdulbasid Abu Muzairik told Al Jazeera.
Rebels also were tweeting about the continuing attacks and U.S. Secretary of State, in a typically understated diplomatic way, said it was “not at all clear” that Gaddafi was observing the ceasefire.
While Gaddafi was playing his time game NATO forces and countries supporting were preparing for strikes on Libya to enforce a no fly zone. The U.N. resolution passed Thursday gave them enough to do almost anything except invade the country.
Gaddafi’s latest broken promise could result in France, Britain and the U.S., the main countries participating in the U.N. action, stretching the resolution to its limit. The Libyan put Russia in a particularly embarrassing position because Moscow abstained on the U.N. vote, saying a ceasefire was the proper way to deal with the situation. Agencies