10,000 death toll after months of Libyan unrest

THE UN has sent food for 50,000 people to west Libya as aid groups scrambled to reach trapped civilians and rebels put the death toll from two months of fighting at 10,000.

One month after NATO allies dropped their first bombs on Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, there appeared no end in sight to what experts are warning will be a prolonged military stalemate in which civilians casualties will mount.

And with thousands clamouring to escape the besieged rebel city of Misrata, Britain said it will charter ships to pick up 5,000 migrant workers after a ferry rescued nearly 1,000 on Monday.

The UN’s World Food Programme said in Geneva it has opened up a lifeline from Tunisia.

“We’ve managed to open up an humanitarian corridor into western Libya,” said spokeswoman Emilia Casella. “A convoy of eight trucks loaded with 240 metric tonnes of wheat flour and 9.1 metric tons of high energy biscuits, enough to feed nearly 50,000 people for 30 days, crossed yesterday into western Libya from Ras Jedir crossing point at the Libyan-Tunisian border,” the relief agency said.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the conflict has so far killed 10,000 people and wounded 55,000, citing figures compiled by the Benghazi-based rebel government.

“The president spoke to us of 10,000 dead and 50,000 to 55,000 injured,” Frattini said after talks in Rome with Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

He also announced that Italy will host talks next month on allowing foreign oil sales from eastern Libya and could provide Libyan rebels with night-vision kit and radars.

The meeting in Rome would also try to find ways of using assets owned by Gaddafi’s regime that have been frozen around the world in order to aid the rebels and would discuss the thorny issue of arming the Libyan rebels, he said.

Meanwhile, at least 846 Egyptians died in the nearly three-week-long popular uprising that toppled long-serving President Hosni Mubarak and electrified the region, a government fact-finding mission announced.

In their report, the panel of judges described police forces shooting protesters in the head and chest with live ammunition and presented a death toll more than twice that of previous official estimates. Earlier official estimates had put the toll from the days of demonstrations, in which protesters battled heavily armed legions of riot police, at 365.

The mission held Mubarak ultimately responsible for the killing of the protesters since his interior minister, Habib el-Adly, had issued the orders to open fire.

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