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Libyan official: Tribes supporting Gadhafi

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Several hundred tribal elders gathered yesterday in the Libyan capital in what a government official said was a show of widespread support for Moammar Gadhafi. Rebels dismissed the claim as bogus.

In Rome, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the best way to protect Libya's people is to get Gadhafi to leave power. "This is the outcome we are seeking," she told representatives from 22 nations and organizations.

Gadhafi has tried to crush an 11-week-old armed rebellion against his rule, including by shelling rebel positions, particularly in the western part of the country that largely remains under his control. Rebels hold most of eastern Libya.

Yesterday, Libyan troops fired Grad rockets toward the outskirts of the rebel-held town of Nalut in a remote western mountain area. A day earlier, Gadhafi loyalists shelled the port area of the city of Misrata, the biggest rebel stronghold in the west, killing four people, including two children, from a migrant workers' camp as an aid ship was docked there.

Asked about Wednesday's shelling, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the port area is within the range of fire of the Libyan forces and that "we won't allow any ship of any kind to come in unless it has our permission."

Last week, Libyan forces were caught by NATO laying anti-shipping mines off Misrata. NATO vessels have been searching for mines since then. Two were detonated shortly after the mine-laying was detected.

Britain's military said yesterday that its naval forces knocked out a mine left about a mile from Misrata's harbor. A Royal Navy vessel destroyed the 220-pound floating bomb Wednesday, the British military said.

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