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International Prosecutor Issues Arrest Warrant for Gadhafi
May 16, 2011

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Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, now faces an arrest warrant at the hands of an International Criminal Court prosecutor. Charges include killing innocent protesters, using heavy artillery against funeral processions, and directing snipers to target worshipers exiting mosques.

The prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, cited mounds of evidence from eyewitnesses and top government officials and promised a trial soon. Gadhafi had no comment.

The NATO-led airstrikes continued to take their toll on Gadhafi's forces and positions, as rebels claimed full control of the long-besieged Misrata, target of a weekslong series of assaults by government forces. Tripoli, the capital, was on the list of NATO airstrike targets.

Led initially by the United States, a coalition of Western countries began bombing Libyan government forces a few weeks ago, in response to a cry for help from Benghazi, the resistance's unofficial home city and the country's second-largest. Since then, both sides in the civil war have traded fire, claims, accusations, and positions, with the rebels holding most of the eastern part of the country and the government holding most of the western part of the country.

Diplomats were continuing to work on a nonviolent solution, with the prime goal being the removal of Gadhafi from the office that he has held for 40 years. For his part, now the survivor of multiple Western airstrikes targeting his compound and installations, Gadhafi has enjoyed support of several world leaders and has refused to leave, much to the chagrin of Western leaders who have denounced the reported government-initiated violence. If the evidence being compiled by the ICC is true and anything to go by, Gadhafi might soon lose even more support than he already has.

528 refugees fleeing the civil war in Libya are alive and well, thanks to local fishermen and Italian coast guard workers who pitched in to save the hundreds of people after their boat began sinking after hitting rocks off the island of Lampedusa. A few people sustained injuries and were hospitalized; among those saved were 24 pregnant women.

The boat was the latest to arrive at the tiny island, normally home to a few thousand people but recently overrun by tens of thousands of people fleeing the violence in North Africa. In some cases, these are family members of people staying behind in Libya to fight against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Many of the people who have arrived on Lampedusa, however, have left Tunisia as well, after violence from Libya jumped the political border.

The situation remained bleak in Misrata, one of the few cities in western Libya not controlled by government forces. The rebels hanging on there have reported intense barrages from rockets, tanks, and gunmen, as well as street-by-street fighting resulting in the shooting of unarmed civilians. The government has denied such charges.

NATO-led airstrikes continued to target forces loyal to Gadhafi, including in the capital, Tripoli, where an earlier blast killed one of his sons and three of his grandchildren.

Escapees continued to pour out of Libyan cities, towns, and villages fleeing the violence that erupted in response to what many in Libya hoped would be a relatively peaceful transition from authoritarian regime to a more representative government, as in Tunisia and Egypt. That has happened, as Gadhafi, who came to power in a coup decades ago, has refused to yield power and instead has trained his forces' guns and weapons on not only rebels with munitions but also civilians with pleas for peace.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 40,000 people have left Libya since the fighting began in earnest. More have attempted to leave but have been thwarted by bombing on both sides. A large number of people who have remained in their homes face shortages of food, water, and medicine.

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