Nato warships have intercepted several boats laying anti-shipping mines outside the harbour of the Libyan city of Misurata, according to a senior military officer.
It appeared to be the first time sea mines have been used in the Libyan conflict.
“We have just seen Gaddafi forces floating anti-ship mines outside Misurata harbour today,” said British Brig. Rob Weighill, director of Nato operations in Libya.
“It again shows his complete disregard for international law and his willingness to attack humanitarian delivery efforts.
He added that Nato crews were disposing of the mines.
It has been a month since Nato assumed control of the US-led military operation in Libya.
Since then, alliance warplanes have conducted a total of 4,242 sorties and 1,766 strike sorties. In addition, a total of 19 Nato ships are patrolling the central Mediterranean.
Forces loyal to Gaddafi yesterday meanwhile for the first time crossed into neighbouring Tunisia and fought a gun battle with Tunisian troops in a frontier town as Libya’s conflict spilt beyond its borders.
Pro-Gaddafi forces shelled the town of Dehiba, damaging buildings and injuring at least one resident, and a group of them drove into the town in a truck, according to witnesses.
The Libyan government troops were pursuing anti-Gaddafi rebels from the restive Western Mountains region of Libya who fled into Tunisia in the past few days after Gaddafi forces overran the border post the rebels had earlier seized.
In response Tunisia summoned Libya’s ambassador to protest against the incursions.
“We summoned the Libyan envoy and gave him a strong protest … because we won’t tolerate any repetition of such violations … Tunisian soil is a red line and no one is allowed to breach it,” said Radhouane Nouicer, the deputy foreign minister.
(www.telegraph.co.uk / 29.04.2011)