Gadhafi forces gain ground at oil port
Updated: 2011-03-08 06:54
Pressure on US to arm rebels is increasing
RAS LANUF, Libya - Libyan rebels ceded ground to Muammar Gadhafi's advancing forces on Monday as the United States came under increasing pressure to arm the opposition, and the UN appointed a humanitarian envoy.
World oil prices rose again, while NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said attacks on civilians by Gadhafi's troops could amount to crimes against humanity.
The rebels began pulling back from the key oil port of Ras Lanuf as fighter jets targeted defenses on the edge of town, throwing up palls of smoke amid fears that government forces were gearing for an attack.
A doctor in Misrata said 21 people, including a child, had been killed in clashes there on Sunday, and 91 people wounded.
"The overwhelming majority of them are civilians, including a boy aged two and a half," he said of the casualties in Libya's third city which had been shelled by Gadhafi tanks.
"These widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity," Rasmussen told a news conference at NATO headquarters.
Government forces had slipped into the town at night and waited for the rebels, who on Sunday were ambushed and could not regain the territory despite hours of fighting.
It was still unclear whether rebels still held al-Nawfaliyah.
Libya needs help
Libya is an important partner for the West in containing al-Qaida and illegal migrants trying to reach Europe, Gadhafi said on Monday.
Gadhafi, in an interview with France 24 television station, also said the international media had created a distorted image of the violence in Libya over the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, the United Nations and the European Union are ratcheting up efforts to ensure humanitarian assistance to unrest-hit Libya, as the Libyan government reportedly regained control of the western city of Misurata on Sunday.
Xinhua reporters in Tripoli heard heavy gunfire beginning early Sunday morning, which authorities later said was Gadhafi supporters celebrating the recapture of Misurata. Supporters also set off fireworks and drove cars around the city, honking horns. Thousands of them gathered at the Green Square in downtown Tripoli to mark the "victory".
The UN called on Monday for $160 million to cover the needs of those who have fled Libya as well as others who remained trapped in the country.
The appeal is expected to cover relief support including shelter, food, transportation, water and sanitation for up to one million people for the next three months.
"This appeal is based on planning scenario projecting up to 400,000 people leaving Libya - including the 200,000 who have left to date - and another 600,000 people inside Libya expected to need humanitarian aid to varying degrees," said Valerie Amos, UN aid chief.
"I hope that this appeal receives a favorable response from donors, which will enable us to continue to support those in need," added the United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.
The appeal will be revised in two weeks, said the UN.
A massive 8.8 magnitude quake hit the northeast coast of Japan on March 11,2011.
Lawmakers and political advisers gather in Beijing to discuss major issues.
A massive earthquake hit Japan hard, leaving thousands dead.