Libyan forces struck on Saturday at the heart of the rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi, shelling the outskirts of the rebel-held city Benghazi and launching airstrikes in defiance of international demands for a halt to the fighting.
A warplane was shot down over the outskirts of Benghazi, sending up a massive black cloud of smoke.
An Associated Press reporter saw the plane go down in flames and heard the sound of artillery and crackling gunfire in the distance.
Before the plane went down, journalists could hear what appeared to be airstrikes from it.
Rebels cheered and celebrated at the crash, though the government denied a plane had gone down - or that any towns were shelled on Saturday.
Leaders from the Arab world, Africa, the United States and other Western powers were holding urgent talks in Paris on Saturday over possible military action against Gadhafi's forces, which are trying to crush the nearly 5-week-old rebellion against him.
Trying to outmanoeuvre Western military intervention, Gadhafi's government declared a cease-fire on Friday as the rebel uprising faltered against his artillery, tanks and warplanes.
But the opposition has said shells rained down well after the announcement and accused the Libyan leader of lying.
The fighting galvanised the people of Benghazi, with young men collecting bottles to make Molotov cocktails. Some residents dragged bed frames and metal scraps into the streets to make roadblocks.
Wary of the cease-fire, Britain and France took the lead in plans to enforce a no-fly zone, sending British warplanes to the Mediterranean and announcing the crisis summit in Paris with the U.N. and Arab allies.
In Washington, President Barack Obama ruled out the use of American ground troops but warned that the U.S., which has an array of naval and air forces in the region, would join in military action.
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