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On Sunday, NATO aircraft hit two rocket launchers and anti-aircraft artillery in the vicinity of Misrata.

The rebels got a boost Monday when Germany announced that it officially recognized their council as the legitimate government of the Libyan people.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made the announcement on a visit to Benghazi.

The United Arab Emirates recognized the council Sunday and gave Col. Gadhafi’s ambassador 72 hours to leave the country.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton exhorted African nations to step up political pressure on Col. Gadhafi to hasten the fall of his regime.

Speaking at a meeting of the African Union in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday, she urged the African representatives to suspend the operations of the Libyan regime’s embassies in their countries, expel pro-Gadhafi diplomats, and increase contact and support for the rebel provisional government.

“Your words and your actions could make the difference” in bringing the situation to a close, she said.

Not all African nations have supported the U.N. Security Council’s efforts against the Gadhafi regime. The main reason for their allegiance to the Libyan leader has been the fact that Col. Gadhafi financed many African regimes and the African Union.

In recent weeks, NATO has focused the bulk of its firepower on the regime’s assets in and around Tripoli.

Col. Gadhafi appears unfazed by the airstrikes.

Residents of Tripoli told The Times that Libyan state TV had broadcast footage of Col. Gadhafi playing chess on Sunday evening with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the visiting Russian head of the World Chess Federation.

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.