Reuters | Libya's top oil official became the latest leading figure to desert Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday, complaining of "unbearable" violence and adding political momentum to a revolt against the leader's long rule.
In rebel-held eastern Libya, an explosion damaged a hotel used by rebels and foreigners in Benghazi, wounding one person, and police said rebel authorities believed the explosion might be linked to Gaddafi agents still operating in the east.
Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the rebel National Transitional Council, told Reuters the explosion outside Tibesti hotel was believed to have been caused by a hand grenade thrown in a "desperate attempt" by Gaddafi's loyalists to sow terror.
The defection by National Oil Corp head Shokri Ghanem, who is also a former prime minister, came two days after the defections of eight army officers including five generals and those in earlier weeks of senior diplomats and former ministers.
"I left the country and decided also to leave my job and to join the choice of Libyan youth to create a modern constitutional state respecting human rights and building a better future for all Libyans," he said.
Speaking at a news conference in Rome organized by the Libyan ambassador, who has also defected, Ghanem said he had left his job because of the "unbearable" violence in Libya.