NATO strikes near Gaddafi compound, Libya says 3 dead

In face of airstrikes, Libyan government may quit fighting in Misrata and allow local tribes to lead fight against rebels.

By REUTERS
April 23, 2011 05:55
2 minute read.
Crater caused by coalition airstrike in Tripoli

Libya airstrike crater 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

TRIPOLI - NATO jets hit a target near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's compound in central Tripoli early on Saturday, which the government described as a car park but which Reuters reporters said looked like a bunker.

Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said three people were killed by the "very powerful explosion" near Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound in the early hours of Saturday.

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Reuters reporters said cars were parked on the empty land but the area was surrounded by a wall and guarded by watchtowers and soldiers, suggesting it was not simply wasteland.

They saw two large holes in the ground, where the bombs had torn through a layer of soil, followed by a layer of reinforced concrete, to pierce what appeared to be an underground bunker.

Smoke was rising from one of the craters and ammunition crates lay nearby.

Ibrahim said the area was disused and the ammunition boxes were empty.

Reuters correspondents in Tripoli heard jets fly over the city, and felt a rumbling that shook walls and rattled windows.

Rebels say NATO forces appear to have stepped up attacks on areas controlled by Gaddafi in recent days.

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Libya's deputy foreign minister said on Friday Gaddafi's army may quit fighting in Misrata because of NATO airstrikes and allow local tribes to lead the fight against rebels.

Khaled Kaim said the army was meeting with local tribes who would try to talk to the rebels first. If dialogue fails, the tribes would fight the rebels in Libya's third largest city.

Kaim told reporters that the tribes had told the army: "if you can't do it, we will do it."

"Now there is an ultimatum before the Libyan army. If they can't resolve the problem in Misrata then the people from the region... will move in," he said.

"The tactic of the army is to have a surgical solution but with the (NATO) airstrikes it doesn't work," he said. "The situation in Misrata will be eased, will be dealt with by the tribes around Misrata and the rest of Misrata's people and not by the Libyan army."


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