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News Wrap: Libyan Rebels Retake Key Building From Gadhafi’s Forces

April 22, 2011 at 6:18 PM EST
In other news Friday, Libyan rebels took back a key building in Misrata after hours of urban battle with forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. The port city has seen power shift back and forth in recent weeks. In Pakistan, U.S. drone strikes targeted a militant stronghold near the Afghan border and killed at least 25 people.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Rebel fighters in Libya took back a key eight-story building in an urban battle with forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. The clashes raged for hours in Misrata, a port city that has seen power shift back and forth over recent weeks.

We have a report from Neil Connery of Independent Television News.

NEIL CONNERY: In the devastated heart of Misrata, Libyan fights Libyan for every foot and every building on every street. These pictures taken by rebel fighters show the close-hand nature of this bitter battle and what it has done to the city.

Footage said to have been filmed over the last two days shows pro-Gadhafi forces still have tanks on the streets. But the rebels claim they are holding their own and even regaining ground. They will be encouraged by the latest American estimates that NATO strikes have destroyed between 30 and 40 percent of Gadhafi’s ground forces.

They will also take heart from the presence of U.S. Sen. John McCain in their capital, Benghazi.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: I believe that we should be much more involved and engaged in the air campaign than we have been.

NEIL CONNERY: It’s been confirmed that American Predator drones, unmanned planes armed with powerful missiles, have carried out their first attacks on government military targets. It is an increase in American involvement, but in itself, doesn’t change the fact this is looking like a prolonged civil war.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, said the fight in Libya has become much more difficult. Speaking at a news conference in Iraq, he said the situation in some cities in eastern Libya is very much stalemate-like.

In Pakistan, U.S. drone strikes killed at least 25 people today. The missiles targeted a militant stronghold in north Waziristan near the Afghan border. Pakistani intelligence officials said 18 of the victims were militants. Two women and five children were also among the dead. Yesterday, Pakistan’s army chief denounced U.S. drone attacks, saying they undermine their nation’s effort against terrorism.

The Japanese government unveiled plans for rebuilding after last month’s earthquake and tsunami, including a special $50 billion budget. Officials plan to build 100,000 temporary homes for survivors; 30,000 of those will be built by the end of May. The special budget is only a part of what rebuilding could cost. Government estimates put the damage at more than $300 billion, making it the world’s most expensive natural disaster.

Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada is resigning. He is handing in his formal letter to Vice President Biden today. Ensign said he wants to avoid exposing his family to the intense focus on an extramarital affair he had with a former campaign staffer. He is still under an Ethics Committee investigation for conduct stemming from the affair. Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, said today he’ll appoint a replacement while Ensign is still in office. His last day in the Senate is May 3.

Good Friday observances were held around the world today. In Old Jerusalem, thousands of Christian pilgrims, many carrying wooden crosses, wound their way down the cobblestone streets to retrace what are believed to be Jesus’ last steps. Meanwhile, in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI led his annual Good Friday mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Today marked the 41st annual International Earth Day. This year’s theme, a billion acts of green, encouraged individual acts of environmental service. Rallies and events took place around the globe this week to raise awareness of the planet and promote its cleanup. Earth Day was founded in the U.S. by former Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson. It is now celebrated in almost 200 countries.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.