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Sun 20 Mar 2011 11:19 PM

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Libyan armed forces order immediate ceasefire

Army spokesman says command has gone out to all units to stop fighting as Allied planes resume sorties

Libyan armed forces order immediate ceasefire
Libyan armed forces order immediate ceasefire
(Getty Images)
Libyan armed forces order immediate ceasefire
Canadian F18 Hornet fighters. (AFP/Getty Images)
Libyan armed forces order immediate ceasefire

The Libyan armed forces have issued a command to all units to observe an immediate ceasefire, a Libyan army spokesman told a news conference on Sunday.

The announcement came after some 24 hours of air bombardment from American, French and British forces aiming to implement a UN resolution authorising the use of force to protect Libyan civilians from government troops.

"The Libyan armed forces ... have issued a command to all military units to safeguard an immediate ceasefire from 9pm (11pm UAE time) this evening," a Libyan army spokesman said.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been using tanks and

artillery to try to crush an uprising against his

four-decade rule.

Minutes before the army spokesman made the

announcement, heavy anti-aircraft gunfire boomed above

central Tripoli, followed by sustained machine gun fire.

Earlier in the day, residents of Misrata, east of

Tripoli, said government tanks and snipers had entered the

centre of the city after a military base on the outskirts

was hit by Western strikes.

The Libyan government in Tripoli had already announced

a unilateral ceasefire last week, but Western powers then

accused Gaddafi of breaking the truce -- a charge denied by

the government.

The latest announcement appeared to contradict a

defiant speech by Gaddafi earlier in the day in which he

said he was giving out weapons to his people to help defend

Libya against Western forces. He also said Libya was ready

to fight a long war to defeat its enemies.

Mohamed Sharif, a tribal official, delivered a

statement in the name of the government inviting people to

join a symbolic procession, "using all means of transport",

from Tripoli to the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi,

to open reconciliation talks.

"... we could sit down as one family to discuss the

affairs of our homeland and the future of Libya in a

democratic and peaceful way," he told reporters.

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