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Anti-Gaddafi protests in the opposition held city of Benghazi earlier this week Press Association

Gaddafi 'using cluster bombs on his own people' in Libya

The accusation comes as NATO foreign ministers reached another stalemate over air support for Libyan rebels on Friday.

FORCES LOYAL TO Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are accused of using banned cluster bombs on people in a residential area of a Libyan city.

Human Rights Watch alleges that cluster bombs, which are banned in more than 100 countries, are being used in residential areas of the western city of Misrata and are posing a grave risk to civilians.

The bombs when fired, open in mid-air and release 21 “bomblets” over a wide area which can cause widespread danger to humans life.

Rights groups have warned that the situation in Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, is dire after 50 days of a siege by pro-Gaddafi’s troops.

Hospitals are unable to cope with growing numbers of casualties, including many shrapnel injuries, AP reports.

Misrata has become emblematic of the limits of NATO’s air campaign, with the alliance’s top military commander saying he needs more precision attack aircraft to avoid civilian casualties in urban combat.

President Barack Obama acknowledged in an interview that the two-month-old civil war has reached a stalemate.

Along with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and UK prime minster David Cameron, Obama has called for Gaddafi to go, pledging to keep up the military campaign until he does.

However, yesterday a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin ended without a commitment from non-participating nations to contribute combat aircraft to the alliance’s military operation in the north African country, BBC reports.

Despite this it is NATO’s hope that, during the military stalemate, economic and political pressure will build on Gaddafi, sparking further uprisings, defections from his regime or even an assassination by a close aide.

- with additional reporting from AP

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