(Updates with rebel comment in third paragraph. See EXTRA and MET for more on Middle East unrest.)
June 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. attack aircraft struck Muammar Qaddafi’s military intelligence headquarters as allied intelligence improves and senior members of the regime defect, the Ministry of Defense spokesman said.
“The Colonel’s apparatus of repression is increasingly well understood,” Major General Nick Pope said in an e-mailed statement today. “The strike complemented other allied air missions conducted against other key regime targets in Tripoli during the course of last night.”
Rebel fighters “completely liberated” the western mountain town of Yefren yesterday, Jalal el-Gallal, a spokesman for the rebels’ National Transitional Council, said in a telephone interview. “We’re getting closer and closer to Tripoli.”
Rebels control most of eastern Libya while Qaddafi remains in power in the capital. He has been pushed into hiding as a result of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization air campaign, allied leaders said May 20. NATO began using attack helicopters in Libya this weekend, escalating the three-month-old conflict.
Five Libyan generals, two colonels and a major defected to rebel forces at the end of May, bringing the total of Libyan army officers that have left Qaddafi to 120, Libya’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Abdel Rahman Shalgham, said on May 30.
Libya’s economy will probably shrink 19 percent this year, after growing 7.4 percent in 2010, while its inflation rate jumps to 12.1 percent from 4.7 percent, according to the 2011 African Economic Outlook. Libya holds Africa’s largest crude reserves.
Libya “is likely to pay a high price for the conflict which has effectively paralyzed the economy and led to a near halt of Libya’s oil production,” according to the report. “The country’s oil endowment and international attention to the country are likely to secure a relatively fast recovery once the conflict is over.”
The report by the African Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Development Program and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, was released in Lisbon today.
A decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on production quotas this week may be complicated by fighting in Libya as members meeting in Vienna find themselves supporting opposing camps in the conflict.
Hostilities in the North African country have blocked 1.4 million barrels a day, and an OPEC delegate said on June 2 that producers need to boost supply by at least 500,000 barrels a day to meet demand. Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are backing the insurgents.
--With assistance from Mariam Fam in Cairo, Ayesha Daya in Dubai and Mike Cohen in Cape Town, Editors: Louis Meixler, Andrew J. Barden, Ben Holland.
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