Interpol yesterday issued a worldwide alert against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and 15 of his close associates as the international community continued to ratchet up the pressure on the Libyan dictator.
The international police agency describes the regime figures as individuals who have been identified “as being involved in or complicit in planning attacks, including aerial bombardments, on civilian populations”.
They include seven of his sons, among them Saif, and his daughter Aisha, as well the defence minister, the head of external security, the director of military intelligence and Gaddafi’s head bodyguard.
His forces yesterday launched a powerful attack on a rebel-held city in fierce fighting which left at least 18 people dead.
The casualties of the fighting in Zawiya, the closest opposition-held city to the Libyan capital Tripoli, included the city’s top rebel commander – an army colonel who defected.
In Tripoli, Gaddafi loyalists fired tear gas and live ammunition to halt a new outbreak of protests.
To the east, rebels advanced on an oil port along the Mediterranean coast in their first offensive against Gaddafi’s military.
Explosions were heard as the two sides battled around the air strip at Ras Lanouf, residents said.
The move comes as it was confirmed that the UK Border Agency had seized a ship heading for Tripoli packed with £100m of Libyan banknotes.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who is in Tunisia, announced the UK was stepping up its assistance to refugees stranded in camps on the border after fleeing the violence in Libya.
It was confirmed that the 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, which has been put on standby to assist with humanitarian relief and evacuation operationst remains on 24 hours notice to move.
It also emerged that the Foreign Office was looking at the possibility of sending a diplomatic team into the eastern city of Benghazi to establish direct contact with the rebels who control the city.
The latest fighting underlined how both sides are pushing against the deadlock that has gripped Libya’s 18-day-old upheaval.
The rebellion has broken away the entire eastern half of the country from Gaddafi’s control and has swept over several cities in the west close to the capital.
So far, Gaddafi has had little success in taking back territory, with several rebel cities repelling assaults in the past weeks.