Africa

Libya unrest: Government claims talks with rebels

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Media captionThe BBC's Andrew Harding followed a student in the UK joining the rebels

Libya's prime minister has said his government has been in talks with the rebels, despite denials from the other side.

Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi called for new negotiations between the government and rebel leaders to resolve the conflict.

He also accused Nato of crimes against humanity in its attacks on Libya.

Earlier, Libyan rebels said that 10 civilians had been killed and 40 wounded in a rocket attack by Col Gaddafi's forces on Misrata.

"Our doors are open to all and we are in contact with all the parties," Mr Mahmudi said, according to Agence France-Presse.

He said meetings had taken place in Egypt, France, Norway and Tunisia, and that he could "name the persons" who attended from the rebels' side.

'No negotiation'

But Mahmoud Jibril, the head of international affairs in the rebel National Transitional Council, said earlier on Friday that there had been "no negotiation" between the council and the regime.

Speaking in Naples after meeting Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, he said that were negotiations to take place, the TNC would "announce it out of commitment to our friends all over the world".

He added: "We pursue every means possible, whether political, whether military, to liberate our country and establish democratic government based on a constitution and equal rights."

The prime minister's comments came as Nato planes carried out further raids on the capital, Tripoli, attacks which Mr al-Mahmudi said constituted war crimes.

He called for "an urgent meeting" of the United Nations to examine "these crimes committed by Nato against Libyan civilians".

On Friday, Libyan government forces bombarded the western rebel-held city of Misrata and territory held by rebel fighters between Dafniya and Zlitan.

'They ruined it'

These are the next towns on the road to Tripoli from Misrata, as the rebels continued trying to advance westwards following weeks of being besieged by Gaddafi forces.

Image caption Ambulances ferried wounded rebel fighters from the front line west of Misrata

The rebels returned fire from the front line, about 32km (20 miles) from Misrata, with their own artillery and rocket launchers.

A rebel commander, Mohammed Ali, said they had been aiming at tanks and munitions stores in Naima, near Zlitan, but the plan had gone awry.

"They shot when they weren't supposed to shoot and they have ruined it," he told the Reuters news agency.

Nato military spokesman Wing Cdr Mike Bracken told reporters that there were "some positive signs that civilians are unifying against the Gaddafi regime" in the area.

What started as a peaceful uprising against Col Gaddafi's 41-year-rule four months ago has grown into a civil war, with the rebels now holding a third of the country in the east and pockets in the west, including Misrata.

Tripoli remains firmly under the control of the government, despite Nato launching more daytime air strikes.

Following fresh air raids on Friday, Libyan state TV broadcast an audio message from Col Gaddafi, in which he shouted: "We are in our country and we are determined to stay and defend it. We are staying, we are staying. Let them even use nuclear bombs."

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