Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah Tripoli compound 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Louafi Larbi)
TRIPOLI - NATO forces flattened a building inside Muammar
Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound early on Monday, in what a press
official from Gaddafi's government said was an attempt on the Libyan
Firefighters were still working to extinguish flames in a part of the
ruined building a few hours after the attack, when foreign journalists
were brought to the scene in Tripoli.
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The press official, who asked not to be identified, said 45 people were
hurt in the strike, 15 of them seriously, and some were still missing.
That could not be independently confirmed.
Gaddafi's compound has been struck before, but NATO forces appear to be
stepping up the pace of strikes in Tripoli in recent days. A target
nearby, which the government called a car park but which appeared to
cover a bunker, was hit two days ago.
The United States, Britain and France say they will not stop their air campaign over Libya until Gaddafi leaves power.
Washington has taken a backseat role in the air war since turning over
command to NATO at the end of March but is under pressure to do more.
This week it sent Predator drone air craft, which fired for the first
time on Saturday.
Government troops bombarded the western rebel bastion of Misrata again
on Sunday, a day after announcing their withdrawal following a two month
siege. A government spokesman said the army was still carrying out its
plan to withdraw from the city, but had fired back when retreating
troops were attacked.
"As our army was withdrawing from Misrata it came under attack by the
rebels. The army fought back but continued its withdrawal from the
city," Mussa Ibrahim told reporters.
The government says its army is withdrawing from the city and sending in
armed tribesmen instead. Rebels say the announcement may be part of a
ruse to mask troop movements or stir violence between rebels and locals
in nearby towns.
Rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told a news conference in Kuwait that
the Gulf state had agreed to contribute 50 million Kuwaiti dinars ($177
million) to his rebel council to help pay workers in the east of the
country under its control.
"This amount will help us a lot in paying the salaries of employees who
did not receive their little salaries for two months," he said. "We are
capable of only covering 40 percent of this amount. We are in need of
The rebels have been seeking international recognition as well as material support from the west and the Arab world.
They have been unable to advance from eastern Libya as they fight back
and forth with Gaddafi's troops on the coastal road between the towns of
Ajdabiyah and Brega, hampered by their lack of firepower, equipment and
Abdel Jalil also said the rebels had received weapons from "friends and
allies", but did not specify which countries or organizations had
Restarting oil production in rebel-held areas would be a huge boost to
the insurgents. A rebel oil official said companies could resume work as
soon areas are secure.
"For Sirte Oil and Zueitina, we have people ready to move in as soon as
they are safe to move," Wahid Bugaighis, head of the National Oil
Company, said in Benghazi. He said rebels had made about $129 million
from their only shipment of crude oil so far -- exported this month with
the help of Gulf Arab state Qatar -- but had had to pay $75 million for
a single cargo of gasoline.
Misrata bombarded despite withdrawal
In Misrata, a mood of victory was short-lived and the prospect of a turning point in the conflict dimmed on Sunday.
"The situation is very dangerous," rebel spokesman Abdelsalam said by
telephone from the city. "Gaddafi's brigades started random bombardment
in the early hours of this morning. The bombardment is still going on."
Captured government troops said on Saturday they had been ordered to
retreat after a siege of nearly two months, but rebels now say they
believe it was a government ruse.
"I don't think this is a real withdrawal," rebel military spokesman Ahmed Bani told Reuters in Benghazi.
He said government loyalists might be trying to stoke tensions between
Misrata and neighboring towns, and that Gaddafi's troops might return
to the city later under the guise of intervening to protect local tribes
from the rebels.
"What has been said by Gaddafi's regime about withdrawal or suspension
of operations has no basis in truth," national council spokesman Abdel
Hafiz Ghoga told reporters in Benghazi.
"They've fallen back to the western area of Misrata," he said, referring
to Gaddafi's troops. "They are also surrounding Misrata from its
At least three people were killed in the mountain town of Zintan, around 160 km (100 miles) southwest of Tripoli, by fire from Gaddafi's tanks and rockets, residents said.
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