Pro-Gadhafi fighters raise their weapons as they are pictured during a government-organized visit for foreign media in Bin Jawwad, 350 miles (560 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tripoli, in Libya Saturday, March 12, 2011. The world moved a step closer to a decision on imposing a no-fly zone over Libya but Moammar Gadhafi was swiftly advancing Saturday on the poorly equipped and loosely organized rebels who have seized much of the country. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (AP)

Libyan foreign minister announces cease-fire, rebels dismiss cease-fire declaration

Libyan forces called a cease-fire ahead of the UN enforcing a no-fly zone. Rebels say they're still being attacked


AP/Salon
March 18, 2011 4:50PM (UTC)

Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa declared an immediate cease-fire this morning and announced the government would stop military operations. This came hours after the deputy foreign minister announced that the government would move toward a cease-fire as a response to the UN resolution to enforce a no-fly zone; CNN reports that seasoned observers might say this is just a ploy by the Gadhafi regime to buy time.

But a Libyan rebel spokesman has dismissed the cease-fire announcement, claiming Moammar Gadhafi's forces are still attacking key cities in the east and the west.

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Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the national opposition council based in Benghazi, says "no cease-fire."

Gheriani says regime forces are shelling the eastern city of Ajdabiya and Misrata, the last rebel-held city in the western half of the country.

Western powers are racing to prevent more attacks after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution setting the stage for airstrikes, a no-fly zone and other military measures short of a ground invasion.

Meanwhile, oil prices are tumbling after the announcement. Benchmark crude swiftly dropped afterward on the New York Mercantile Exchange, with the price plunging about $3 in 15 minutes, or nearly 3 percent.

Oil is down 37 cents at $101.05 just minutes after the Nymex opened for trading.

Libya has been embroiled in a month-long rebellion that effectively stopped about 1.5 million barrels per day of oil exports. Tensions increased further as forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi hammered protesters with air attacks. The United Nations declared a no-fly zone over the country Thursday night.

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AP/Salon

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