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UN chief urges 'prompt and peaceful' transition in Libya

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The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to show unity and ensure a "prompt and peaceful" transition in Libya.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to show unity and ensure a "prompt and peaceful" transition in Libya.

According to international organizations, up to 640 people have been killed and thousands wounded in clashes with government forces in Libya since protests against longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime began on February 15.

"The current situation is unpredictable and could go in any number of directions, many of them dangerous," he told reporters on Wednesday. "At this crucial juncture, it is imperative that the international community maintain its unity and act together to ensure a prompt and peaceful transition."

He also said the United Nations Security council will decide on its next move depending on how the situation in the African state would develop, but stressed those "brutally shedding the blood of innocents" must be brought to justice.

"Let me say directly: those responsible for violence against civilians must be held accountable," Ban said. "And among the events we have witnessed recently, some appear to be clear violations of international humanitarian and human rights law."

Media earlier reported that Libyan authorities used military aviation against protestors, ordered troops to shoot to kill and employed foreign mercenaries to crush the unrest.

The UN chief did not elaborate on whether any international sanctions may be imposed on the Libyan government.

"The time for change is now. The United Nations stands ready to assist the people of the region in meeting the challenges of this great transition," he added.

Ban has cut short his visit to Los Angeles to return in New York to address the Libyan crisis. The UN chief had a phone conversation with Gaddafi on Tuesday urging him to "stop violence immediately."

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council announced that it would meet on Friday to discuss "egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law" in Libya, the UN News Center said.

The special meeting, called at the request of about 50 member- and non-member states, will be the first ever to discuss situation in one of the Council's members.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged states neighboring Libya to open their borders for refugees.

"Given the continued reports of violence and human rights abuses inside Libya, it is imperative that people fleeing the country are able to reach safety," the UN refugee agency said in a statement.

NEW YORK, February 24 (RIA Novosti)

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