The Maldives has suspended diplomatic ties with the Libyan government as Western powers increase military pressure on President Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
“Following the recognition of the TNC, the suspension of diplomatic relations with the pro-Gaddafi regime is based on the continuing deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Libya, and increasingly clear evidence that the Gaddafi regime is guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” the Maldives Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The statement came after the US accused Gaddafi of using human shields and cluster bombs against his own population in the city of Misata, in some of the fiercest fighting of the civil war so far.
At least 10 civilians were killed on Wednesday, along with British photojournalist Tim Hetherington and American photographer Chris Hondros.
A bombing attack on Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli yesterday meanwhile caused three causalities, after NATO jets targeted a bunker underneath a car park.
France, Italy and Britain this week authorised the deployment of military advisors to assist the ill-disciplined rebels in overthrowing Gaddafi’s government, despite earlier reluntance to put ‘boots on the ground’ in the stricken country.
US President Barack Obama has meanwhile authorised the use of drone aircraft in Libya. A NATO official this week told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that the drones would allow the identification of individuals even in crowded urban environments, allowing for more precise airstrikes.
After France and Qatar, the Maldives was the third country to recognise the Transitional National Council, the Benghazi rebels’ representative body.