UN chief warns Libyan regime over attacks on civilians

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UN chief Ban Ki-moon Friday warned the Libyan regime that anyone responsible for attacks on unarmed civilians will be "brought to justice."

"It is absolutely necessary for the Libyan authorities to immediately cease all hostilities against the civilian population," he told a joint news conference with Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

"Armed attacks against unarmed civilians, peaceful civilians is a violation of international human rights and those individuals who have committed, or who will commit, these crimes will be responsible and accountable and will be brought to justice."

The UN Security Council late Thursday passed a resolution approving "all necessary measures" to impose a no-fly zone in Libya, protect civilian areas and pressure Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi into accepting a ceasefire.

The Libyan government Friday announced an immediate halt to military operations in the country following the resolution.

But the commander of the rebels fighting to overthrow Kadhafi dismissed any ceasefire offer as a bluff.

Ban said the UN resolution "reaffirms clearly and unequivocally the international community's determination to fulfill its responsibility to protect citizens from violence perpetuated upon them by their own government.

"The resolution authorises the use of all necessary means, including a no-fly zone, to prevent further casualties and loss of innocent lives," he said.

"I believe the resolution is very historic, very concrete and very practical.

"It is necessary for all the member states of the United Nations to fully cooperate and implement it where they can, using all the means at their disposal."

Zapatero told the news conference the international community "will not be fooled by the Libyan regime and will verify by all possible means that the resolution is strictly respected."

Spain announced earlier Friday it would allow NATO to use two military bases and also provide air and naval forces for use in any air operations over Libya.

"Spain will put the bases at Rota and Moron as well as air and naval resources at NATO's disposition," Defence Minister Carme Chacon said in a speech, adding that the decision still needed parliamentary approval.

Rota is an air and naval base which already provides support for US and NATO forces, and Moron is an air base. Both are in southwestern Spain.

"I welcome Spain's efforts to resolve this crisis," Ban said. "It is important that the international community continue to speak with one voice."

The UN chief is to travel on from Spain to Tunisia and Egypt in order to "listen to the people" and to "express my solidarity," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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