Arab call to break Libya embargo

DUBAI (South News) : An Arab newspaper called on Arab countries this week to follow the lead of African heads of state and break the UN air traffic embargo on Libya as television footage details a British funded assasination attempt on it's leader Muammar Qadhafi.

Leading Emirates newspaper called for an end of a UN embargo as Pan Arab satellite television station broadcast videotape of what it says was an assassination attempt against Moammar Qadhafi by British intelligence agents in 1996.

"It's not too late. Arab states can still follow the example of African countries and start to break the embargo on Libya and its people without awaiting a decision from Washington or the UN Security Council," the UAE's Al-Khaleej newspaper said in a commentary.

Meanwhile controversial video footage was shown Thursday by Arab satellite television channel ANN during a live interview with Qadhafi from Libya's capital, Tripoli. The footage shows Qadhafi being greeted by a crowd at a rally in Wadi Achatt, in the southern province of Fezzan, when a man threw a hand grenade at him from less than three metres (yards).

Libyan bodyguards moved him, apparently without any panic, to a platform some metres away from where he was to sit in front of the crowds, while other bodyguards seized the man.

Qadhafi said the man, who appeared in the images to be in his 30s and who had a moustache, was ``an agent of the British intelligence'' and had confessed he wanted to kill him. The Libyan leader gave no further details about the identity of the man, or his fate.

He said that former British intelligence officer David Shayler had confirmed that the attempt was supported and financed by a British intelligence service. The British government denied Shayler's allegations.

Shayler has been detained by French police since last month at the demand of the British government.A Paris court was expected later this month to examine a request from London for the extradition of Shayler, accused of divulging official secrets, justice sources in Paris said on Thusrday.

Qadhafi referred to the alleged assassination attempt in a television interview last month saying "How do we talk about Lockerbie and forget the assassination attempt that the British intelligence organized?" Qadhafi asked.

The United Arab Emirates daily hailed the initiative of five African heads of state to fly into Libya as "courageous" and said it proved that the embargo was redundant.

"The Arab League has taken important initiatives to resolve the Lockerbie affair, but what is lacking is a bold step to break the unjust embargo," Al-Khaleej said.

In defiance of the embargo, the presidents of Chad, Eritrea, Niger, Mali and Sudan have all flown to Libya to take part in festivities marking the September 1 anniversary of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's rise to power.