Monday, February 21, 2011

Breaking: Libya coming apart/pilots defect to Malta

LIBYA, 3:29 p.m. ET: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi still is in Libya, a Libyan diplomatic source told CNN. The source also denied the Libyan air force was conducting air raids against protesters in Libya.

Separately, a senior official in the Italian secret service also said that Gadhafi remains in Libya. Earlier today, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters that Libyan leader Gadhafi may have been on his way to Venezuela.

SUDAN, 3:24 p.m. ET: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says he will not run for re-election four years from now, a senior member of the country's ruling National Congress Party announced Monday.

"He will also leave his post as chair of the NCP to allow for the transformation of power to a new generation," said Rabi Abd al-Ati. The senior NCP member rejected the notion that al-Bashir's decision was prompted by popular uprisings in the region, including neighboring Egypt.

LIBYA, 2:15 p.m. ET: Two Libyan Air Force pilots defected to Malta on Monday after being asked to bomb Libyan citizens, a Maltese government source said. The pilots' fighter jets were armed with rockets and loaded machine guns, the source said. Malta is a short flight from Libya.

LIBYA, 2:04 p.m. ET: Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi met in Tripoli with ambassadors of the European Union, blaming the unrest in the country on "terrorists and destructive plans" and stressing that Libya has the right to "take any measures" to protect its unity, stability, people and resources, Libyan state television reported.

LIBYA, 1:19 p.m. ET: Libyan helicopter gunships are firing into crowds of protesters, according to the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, an opposition group. CNN was unable to confirm the report independently.

LIBYA, 12:45 p.m. ET: Oil company Total says it will evacuate most of its expatriate employees and their families from Libya. Shell said it has temporarily relocated the families of expatriate staff.

LIBYA, 12:30 p.m. ET: The U.S. State Department has ordered family members of U.S. Embassy employees and non-emergency personnel to leave Libya.

LIBYA, 12:26 p.m. ET: Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has declared war on the Libyan people and is committing genocide. Who is Gadhafi?

YEMEN, 12:17 p.m. ET: Two human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, are reporting that 12 people have died as a result of protests in Yemen.

LIBYA, noon ET: British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi may be on his way to Venezuela. CNN has not confirmed. Gadhafi has maintained power in the country for 42 years. The Libyan ambassador to the UK, Omar Jelban, is denying that Gadhafi is on his way to Venezuela.

Libya, noon ET U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had talked with Gadhafi, saying he was deeply concern about the violence, and that it must stop. At least 233 people have been killed in the protests, according to Human Rights Watch. Its report cites information from hospital sources. CNN is not able to independently confirm the figure, as the network has not been granted access to report on the ground.

Google has designed this map of protests based on what it calls "reliable tweets." Personal up-to-the-minute audio reports have been uploaded on Google here. CNN has not yet vetted these reports.

LIBYA, 11:45 a.m. ET The government is demanding that citizens cooperate with security forces, and warning "organized gangs," Libyan state television reported, as security forces conduct raids on what it called "nests of terror and sabotage." Libya's justice minister, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has resigned to protest the "bloody situation and use of excessive force" against protesters by security forces, a Libyan newspaper reported. Meanwhile, two Libyan fighter jets have landed in Malta, according to journalists at the airport.

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