Libyan rebel fighters head for the frontline in the desert outside the town of Ajdabiya on April 8, 2011, as rebels indicated the front remained somewhere between Ajdabiya and the oil town of Brega, which is under the control of the loyalists. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)
NATO acknowledged that an air strike Thursday mistakenly killed two Libyan rebels, an accident it said was caused by lack of information. Deputy NATO commander and British Rear Adm. Russell Harding said that until that time, only Moammar Gadhafi’s forces were seen using the types of heavy tanks that were targeted in the strike. He refused to apologize, calling the situation “fluid.” Forces have been scattered in a back-and-forth, rapidly changing series of battles in recent days that have made knowing their position more difficult, he said.
Editor’s note: This video was obtained by the Associated Press, which cannot independently verify its contents
Gadhafi’s forces have adapted to the air strikes by hiding their equipment in civilian enclaves and using other tactics designed to make an air campaign more difficult. Despite two days of talks with a US. envoy, the rebels have not yet received funding or arms from the allies.
Gadhafi’s forces are reportedly advancing in the rebel-held western city of Misrata, and UNICEF claims that snipers have hit children in the city. Aid organizations are concerned about the humanitarian conditions in the city after a weeks-long state of siege.
Aftershock Kills 3 in Japan, Power Outages Compound Misery
A 7.1-magnitude aftershock that hit northeastern Japan on Thursday killed three people and caused widespread power outages in a region already under massive devastation. Tens of thousands are said to be without electricity or water, and gasoline shortages are once again a problem in an area struggling to rebuild and regain basic services.
Officials said the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant did not sustain significant damage. Workers are still scrambling to cool overheating reactors damaged in the March 11 earthquake. The last of the estimated 10,000 tons of water being dumped into the Pacific Ocean will be disposed of Saturday. Massive amounts of water were used to cool the reactor, creating an excess of radioactive water that needed to be removed to allow closer work at the plant.
Ivory Coast’s Ouattara Predicts victory, Gbagbo Surrounded
Alassane Ouattara, the winner of November’s presidential vote in Ivory Coast, said Thursday that his forces will contain incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who is hunkered in his Abidjan residence, until he runs out of supplies and surrenders.
Gbagbo has refused to recognize the election results and leave office, leading to months of fighting in the West African nation that has left hundreds dead and prompted the involvement of the United Nations and the French military. In addition to targeting Gbagbo’s arsenals, French forces rescued the Japanese ambassador after Gbgabo’s forces took over his residence.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Gbagbo to step down, saying “[T]his is his last chance.”
Ouattara blamed mercenaries, who “have established a climate of terror and insecurity in the city,” and vowed that his troops would move to secure the city. The crisis has caused an estimated 135,000 refugees to flee the violence, some to neighboring Liberia.
New Clashes in Syria Protests
(Update: The Associated Press is reporting that witnesses have said 13 people were killed, while the government puts the death toll at two and says security forces were not responsible.)
Thousands of protesters gathered again Friday in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, despite security forces firing tear gas and bullets, according to witnesses. The protests grew as people left Friday prayers at a mosque in Daraa, in keeping with a pattern of larger Friday demonstrations aimed at the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
There were reports that several protesters were killed in Friday’s demonstrations. Strict limitations on foreign media, however, means much of the information has come through witnesses at the scene.
Assad has said he will take steps toward reform, including ending the country’s decades-old state of emergency, but has thus far been unable to quell the growing unrest.