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UN Security Council Adopts Sanctions On Qaddafi

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the organization to act to end the bloodshed
The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a sanctions resolution against the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

The resolution slaps a travel ban and asset freeze on Qaddafi, his inner circle, and members of the Libyan leader's family.

It calls for the International Criminal Court to probe the crackdown against antigovernment protesters in Libya and prosecute anyone responsible for killing civilians.

It also includes an arms embargo.

Libya's deputy UN ambassador, Ibrahim al-Dabashi, said the council's move would provide "moral support for our people who are resisting."

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said the international community had spoken with one voice.

"Tonight, acting under Chapter 7, the Security Council has come together to condemn the violence, pursue accountability, and adopt biting sanctions targeting Libya's unrepentant leadership," Rice said. "This is a clear warning to the Libyan government that it must stop the killing."

The UN vote came after U.S. President Barack Obama for the first time called on Qaddafi to step down.

Obama said Qaddafi had lost his legitimacy by using mass violence against his own people.

Hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed in the protests demanding Qaddafi step down after more than four decades in power.

New Violence

Antigovernment protesters in Tripoli came under heavy gunfire by government forces on February 25. Witnesses said people were confronted as they emerged from mosques after Friday Prayers and begun demonstrations in different parts of the capital.

The AFP news agency quoted an unnamed Tripoli resident as saying gunfire could still be heard in the city all night, and that "the electricity was cut off."

"We were terrified. We thought that meant they were preparing for attacks. We grabbed whatever we could use as weapons and stayed by the door in case anyone broke in," the Tripoli resident told AFP by telephone.

Qaddafi, the 68-year-old former colonel who has been ruling Libya since 1969, seems to be determined to fight to the end.

Benghazi residents celebrate their liberation from the Qaddafi regime.

The Libyan leader and his family insist that the uprising against the regime was brought about by Al-Qaeda terrorists and Islamic radicals.

Qaddafi appeared on state television, which showed him addressing hundreds of his supporters in the capital's Green Square.

"We will fight them and we will beat them," Qaddafi told the crowd. "Sing, dance, and prepare yourselves."

Arming Supporters

Qaddafi made it clear he was ready to arm his supporters.

"We are capable of destroying the enemies, destroying the enemies by the will of the people -- by the armed people. When necessary, arsenals will be opened to arm all Libyan people, all the Libyan tribes. Libya will turn into a red fire and embers," Qaddafi said.

However, even some of Qaddafi's closest allies are defecting and taking the side of antigovernment protesters. Qaddafi's childhood friend and Libya's envoy to the United Nations, Abdurrahman Shalgham, has become the latest high-ranking official to defect.

"It appears that, effectively, Qaddafi no longer controls the situation in Libya," Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said today. Berlusconi is considered to be Qaddafi's strongest ally in Europe.

Berlusconi so far has been more subdued in condemning the violence in Libya. Italy has close business ties with Libya, which is one of Rome's key oil and gas suppliers. Today he said the uprising in Libya could bring democracy but could also lead to the formation of dangerous centers of Islamic fundamentalism.

One of his sons, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, offered negotiations with antigovernment forces.

"We are dealing with terrorists," Saif Qaddafi told reporters in Tripoli on the evening of February 25. "The army decided not to attack the terrorists and give them an opportunity for negotiation. We hope to do this in a peaceful way, and we will do so by tomorrow."

Saif Qaddafi denied rumors that foreign mercenaries were taking part in attacks on protesters. He said government forces would soon regain control of eastern areas.

The regime opponents said they now control most of the eastern areas, including Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city after its capital.

Many of Libya's major oil fields are located in the eastern regions of the energy-rich country, which is the world's 12th-largest oil exporter.

According to oil industry sources outside the country, crude oil shipments from Libya have almost halted in recent days due to reduced production, a lack of staff at ports, and security concerns.

The violence has prompted tens of thousands of people -- mainly foreign nationals working in Libya -- to leave the country. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on February 25 that some 22,000 people had fled to Tunisia and 15,000 to Egypt.

Filipino worker Pem Dapdap, who arrived in Manila on February 26 along with hundreds of others, said Tripoli airport was packed with people trying to flee the violence.

"The scene in the Tripoli airport was overwhelming. It was filled with suitcases, it looked like there was one hectare of suitcases," Dapdap said.

The U.S. State Department said on February 26 there "may be" some Americans still remaining in Libya after U.S. efforts to evacuate all its citizens.

compiled from agency reports