Libyan gunmen from the forces against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fire in the air during a mass funeral for rebel gunmen killed in fighting Wednesday, in Ajdabiya, eastern Libya, Thursday.AP PHOTO
BREGA, Libya — Rebels reinforced a key oil port Thursday while facing new regime airstrikes in eastern Libya, and thousands of angry mourners buried victims of a counteroffensive by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, shooting guns in the air, shouting “Down with Gadhafi!” and swearing to take vengeance.
Although there have been stirrings of a diplomatic effort to ease the crisis, an opposition spokesman flatly ruled out any negotiations with Gadhafi, saying “his hands are tainted with blood.”
President Barack Obama insisted that Gadhafi leave office, declaring he had “lost the legitimacy to lead.”
He pledged to hold Gadhafi and his loyalists accountable, and he lauded U.N. sanctions meant to put international pressure on the longtime ruler.
Gadhafi’s regime apparently has stepped up its recruitment of mercenaries from other African countries.
The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands said it will investigate Gadhafi, his sons and his inner circle for possible crimes against humanity in the violent crackdown of the 17-day-old uprising.
Gadhafi ally President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has proposed that his country and a bloc of “friendly” nations mediate the conflict, but so far Gadhafi has not responded, and opposition spokesman Mustafa Gheriani ruled out talks.