NATO destroys Gaddafi compound in precision air strike
Published 26/04/2011 | 05:00
Nato destroyed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's main office building hours after it came under political pressure to go after the Libyan leader.
Libyan officials were quick to condemn the air strikes on Gaddafi's sprawling Bab al-Azizia compound in southern Tripoli as an attempt to "assassinate" their leader. Two explosions were heard from the compound shortly after midnight yesterday.
Tripoli residents said they were the loudest heard since Nato's air campaign began.
The Libyan leader is not thought to have been at the scene of the blasts, which destroyed a small complex of buildings where he recently hosted delegates from an African Union peace mission.
Libyan officials claimed 45 people were wounded, 15 of them seriously, but did not take Western correspondents to see any of the casualties.
"It was an attempt to assassinate Gaddafi," one official said.
"Nato carried out a precision strike in central Tripoli last night," Oana Lungescu, the Nato spokesman, said.
"The target was a communications headquarters that was used to co-ordinate attacks against civilians. We will keep up the pressure until all attacks against civilians have stopped, Gaddafi's forces have withdrawn to bases and full and unimpeded humanitarian access has been ensured."
The attacks came after calls by some US politicians over the weekend to target Gaddafi.
Such a course of action has been strongly opposed by Russia and other states, which have argued that "regime change" runs counter to the UN resolution authorising military action in Libya.
Saif al-Islam, one of Gaddafi's sons, said the Nato strikes would not deter the Libyan government in its campaign against the rebels. "This cowardly attack on Muammar Gaddafi's office may frighten or terrorise children, but we will not abandon the battle," he said.
Another Libyan official said the attack would justify Libyan terrorist action against the cities of Nato members.
Meanwhile, pro-Gaddafi troops shelled residential areas in Misrata, the rebel-held city, with a ferocity that a revolutionary spokesman described as "unprecedented".
The rebel spokesman called for more air strikes to stop the barrage. "We've had great success, but Nato needs to do more," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)