4:00pm: NATO insisting its airstrike killed soldiers and mercenaries, not 85 civilians as state-run TV claimed. NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie said the Libyan claim of civilian casualties in an airstrike near the western front-line town of Zlitan “was not corroborated by available factual information at the site.”
NATO aircraft hit a staging base and military accommodation 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Zlitan, Lavoie said from the operational command in Naples, Italy. Four buildings and nine vehicles within the compound were struck with precision-guided munitions, he said.
3:00pm: Rebel forces in western Libya drove their offensive north toward the town of Zawiyah near the Mediterranean coast on Thursday, trying to get within striking distance of the capital, Tripoli.
They pushed north to a settlement called Bir Shuaib, taking them within 25 km (15 miles) of their target of Zawiyah, a town less than 50 km from Tripoli, the stronghold of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
“We’ve gone past Nasr village and right now we’re about 25 km from Zawiyah,” said Faris, a rebel fighter. Rebels prevented reporters from getting up to the new front line to see for themselves.
Evidence of help from NATO air strikes was seen at the village of Shalghouda, on the route of the rebel advance.
11:00am: Swedish police stormed the Libyan embassy in Stockholm on Thursday after a small group of anti-Gaddafi protesters had occupied the building earlier in the day. It was not immediately clear if any of the protesters or police had been hurt.
A police spokesman had said earlier that a five or six people occupied the embassy at around 11 a.m. (0900 GMT). The protesters hung the flag of the Libyan rebel movement outside the embassy and also painted the door of the building with the rebel flag.
10:00am: Libyan state television on Thursday said Prime Minister David Cameron was using “Irish and Scottish mercenaries” to tame riots in England. “The rebels of Britain approach Liverpool in hit-and-run battles with Cameron’s brigades and mercenaries from Ireland and Scotland. God is Greatest,” said a breaking news caption on Libyan TV’s morning program.
9:04am: Libya’s rebel council said it is hoping to have an envoy in Ottawa soon.
Ali Aujali, the U.S. envoy for Libya’s National Transitional Council, told Postmedia News the council wrote to the Canadian government to request that an NTC envoy take over the country’s now-shuttered embassy in Ottawa after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird expelled the four remaining diplomats on Monday.
The diplomats were given five business days to vacate the embassy and leave Canada. The remaining four diplomats were the last batch of dignitaries to leave. Five others were asked to leave in May. At least one of the diplomats expelled on Monday has made a claim for refugee status. Read full story here.
8:00am: The Libyan leader, at war with rebels and a British-led Nato campaign after he used the military in an attempt to crush protests, attempted to turn the tables on Mr Cameron.
Khaled Kaaim, Libya’s deputy foreign minister, accused the Government of having declared war on the British people.
“Cameron and his government must leave after the popular uprising against them and the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations by police,” said Mr Kaaim.
“Cameron and his government have lost all legitimacy. These demonstrations show that the British people reject this government, which is trying to impose itself through force.”7:51am: Tunisia has intercepted five truckloads of fuel set to be smuggled into neighbouring Libya, an official said on Wednesday, in a move to curb an illegal trade which is helping to keep Muammar Gaddafi in power.
International sanctions and the effects of Libya’s civil war have disrupted normal supplies of motor fuel to parts of the country under Gaddafi’s control, but huge volumes of gasoline are instead being smuggled across the Libyan-Tunisian border.
A spokesman for Tunisia’s Interior Ministry said the trucks were seized at the weekend in the town of Msaken, in the Sousse region about 160 km (100 miles) south of the Tunisian capital.
“The police seized five trucks of gasoline (destined) for the pro-Gaddafi side,” said the spokesman. “They were heading for Libya but the police stopped the trucks.”
Amateur footage posted on video-sharing site YouTube by Libyan opposition activists purported to show the trucks which were seized.
5:05am: Libya’s rebels said on Wednesday they were on the verge of capturing the coastal oil town of Brega, in what could be a decisive step toward unlocking the country’s oil wealth and forcing out Muammar Gaddafi.
“This is the most important place for the oil,” rebel field commander Faraj Moftahi told Reuters behind the frontline, which runs through sand dunes topped with scrub to the east of Brega.
From a hill overlooking a turquoise Mediterranean, rebel artillery shells could be seen sending up clouds of dust and smoke on the town’s northern edge. Gaddafi’s forces responded with an occasional shell or rocket.
Moftahi said his men had already ventured briefly into the town and he hoped to move in in force in the next day or so.