The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and rebels trying to oust him said their forces had advanced to within 80 km of the capital Tripoli.
The court approved warrants for Gaddafi as well as his son Saif al-Islam and brother in law Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity. ICC prosecutors allege they were involved in the killing of protesters who rose up in February against Gaddafi's 41-year rule.
Gaddafi has absolute, ultimate and unquestioned control over Libya's state apparatus and its security forces, presiding Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng said in reading out the ruling.
She added that both Gaddafi and Saif al-Islam conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell by all means the civilian demonstrations against the regime and that al-Senussi used his position of command to have attacks carried out.
Gaddafi's government denies targeting civilians, accusing NATO jets staging air strikes on behalf of rebels of doing so.
In Libya's neighbour, Tunisia, three Libyan ministers, including the foreign minister, were holding talks with foreign parties, the Tunisian state news agency reported, in a possible sign some in Gaddafi's circle were seeking a settlement.
Anti-Gaddafi rebels, based in the Western Mountains region southwest of Tripoli, made their biggest breakthrough in weeks to reach the town of Bir al-Ghanam, where they are now fighting pro-Gaddafi forces for control, their spokesman said.
The advance took them about 30 km north from their previous position and closer to Tripoli, Gaddafi's power base.