LIBYA-48 killed, 150 hurt in West’s attacks

 At least 48 people have died and 150 wounded since the US, Britain and France began pounding Libya with air strikes and Tomahawk missiles, severely damaging the Libyan defence system, Geo News reported Sunday morning.

Muammar Gaddafi has threatened retaliatory actions on military and civilian targets in the Mediterranean and has called for an emergent meeting of the UN Security Council.

Libya has claimed to gun down a French fighter plane, but France said that all of its aircrafts have landed safely after the sorties.

The main barrage of missile strikes began around 2 p.m. Eastern Time, when the United States Navy fired cruise missiles that struck Libya roughly an hour later, Vice Adm. William Gortney told reporters in Washington. He said the Pentagon had not yet assessed the damage that the missiles had caused and would not be able to do so until dawn broke in Libya.

The missile strikes were the start of what Admiral Gortney called a “multiphase operation” to create a no-fly zone that would allow coalition aircraft to fly over Libya without the risk of being shot down. He would not say whether American aircraft would be involved in enforcing the no-fly zone, but he said that no American aircraft were directly over Libya on Saturday afternoon.

Admiral Gortney cast the United States as the “leading edge” among coalition partners in the opening phase of the attack. But in keeping with Mr. Obama’s and Mrs. Clinton’s emphasis that the administration was not driving the efforts to strike Libya, the admiral and other Pentagon officials repeated that the United States would step back within days and hand over command of the coalition to one of its European allies.

The United States has at least 11 warships stationed near Tripoli, including three submarines — the Scranton, the Florida and the Providence — and the destroyers the Stout and the Barry. All five fired cruise missiles on Saturday, the Navy said. Other coalition ships in the Mediterranean included 11 from Italy and one each from Britain, Canada and France.

In a report whose accuracy could not be verified, Libyan state TV Sunday morning quoted the armed forces command as saying 48 people had been killed.

Before his forces came under attack on Saturday, Colonel Qaddafi issued letters warning Mr. Obama and other leaders not to use military might against him.

The tone of the letters — one addressed to Mr. Obama and a second to Mr. Sarkozy, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations — suggested that Colonel Qaddafi was leaving himself little room to back down.

“Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans,” he wrote in a letter that was read to the news media by a spokesman. “This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.

“You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs.”

U.S President Barack Obama has said that the U.S land forces were not being sent to Libya.

Muammar Gaddafi in an audio message said that the people would be armed to resist the attack. Thousands of people have gathered around the residence of Muammar Gaddafi shielding him from any attack from the West.

African Union opposing the West’s attacks on Libya has demanded immediate ceasefire, while the Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has said that the West wanted to capture the oil reserves in Libya. 

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