NATO jets stop attack on Misrata

Smoke billowing from a Libyan tank after it was hit by a missile fired by a Tornado fighter jet, image released April 8, 2011.

From Ben Hubbard, the AP:  NATO warplanes pounded forces loyal to Libyan leader Moaamar Gadhafi attacking the rebel-held city of Misrata, blasting fighting vehicles advancing on the port that serves as the besieged city’s sole lifeline , a NATO spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The battle for Misrata has become the focal point of the uprising against Gadhafi’s regime, and the near-constant shelling of the city by government troops over the past two months has spurred calls for more forceful international intervention to stop the bloodshed. . . .

The NATO airstrike, which took place Tuesday night and sent giant plumes of smoke into the air, helped repulse an attack by Gadhafi’s forces on the city’s vital port complex, alliance spokeswoman Carmen Romero said, also in Brussels.

"NATO forces moved quickly to break up a force advancing on Misrata port," Romero said. "Several NATO aircraft were directed to the area, and following careful assessment of the risk to civilians, our pilots struck."

Damage assessments showed that six military vehicles and seven "technicals" – civilian trucks equipped with machine guns or rocket launchers – were hit. One surface-to-air missile site near Misrata was also destroyed, she said.  (photo: Reuters)

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