By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The United States and the European Union said Wednesday it was considering sanctions and other means to pressure Muammar Gaddafi’s regime to halt attacks against Libyans as violent clashes spread throughout the country.
“The violence is abhorrent, it is completely unacceptable and the bloodshed must stop,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. US President Barack Obama planned to speak publicly about the situation for the first time later Wednesday or Thursday.
Carney said that “a lot of options are under review — sanctions, other options” to end the fighting in the North African country, where protesters are demanding an end to Gadhafi’s 42-year reign but facing a fierce and bloody crackdown.
Obama had stayed silent in public as violence overtook Libya as the US focused on getting US citizens out of the country. Evacuations finally began Wednesday.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the US would ask other countries to get them to safety. He spoke as American and other non-Libyan passengers were boarding a ferry to leave Tripoli for the Mediterranean island of Malta.
“This is not about individual leaders. It’s not about personalities,” Carney said when asked Wednesday if Obama believes Gaddafi should continue to lead Libya. He said what was important that people’s voices are heard.
Also on Wednesday, the EU declared that Gaddafi’s fierce crackdown on Libyan protesters could be considered “crimes against humanity,” vowing it stood ready to hit Libya with sanctions for the attacks.