Share this article

print logo

NATO strikes increase pressure on Gadhafi

The latest NATO airstrike on Moammar Gadhafi's compound that reduced parts of it to a smoldering ruin steps up pressure on the increasingly embattled Libyan leader as he struggles to hold onto the western half of the country.

A Libyan government spokesman denounced Monday's bombing of the compound, known as Bab al-Aziziya, as a failed assassination attempt, saying the 69-year-old leader was healthy, "in high spirits" and carrying on business as usual.

A separate airstrike elsewhere in Tripoli targeted Libyan TV and temporarily knocked it off the air, a government spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

Since an armed uprising erupted in mid-February, Gadhafi has been clinging to control in the western half of Libya, while opposition forces run most of the east.

A NATO campaign of airstrikes has sought to break a battlefield stalemate, and the United States last week added armed U.S. Predator drones to the mission. Italy said Monday its military will join in strategic bombing raids in Libya.

NATO said its latest airstrike sought to destroy a communications headquarters used to coordinate attacks on civilians. A spokesman for the alliance said it is increasingly targeting facilities linked to Gadhafi's regime.

"We have moved on to those command and control facilities that are used to coordinate such attacks by regime forces," the spokesman said of the strike on Bab al-Aziziya, which was hit last month, early in the NATO air campaign.

Gadhafi's forces unleashed new shelling Monday on Misrata that killed at least 10 people, following a weekend pounding that belied government claims its troops were holding their fire as they withdrew from the western city that has been besieged for nearly two months.

The dead from a shattered residential neighborhood included an entire family, according to a doctor in Misrata. Mourners later carried six crudely constructed coffins of family members, plus one child who had been visiting, to a funeral near a mosque.

Local hospitals have been overwhelmed by the rising casualties. "As soon as we clear out the hospital of injuries, Gadhafi fills it up for us again," said the doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

The assault on Misrata, which has claimed hundreds of lives, has deepened Gadhafi's international isolation.

In the attack on Bab al-Aziziya, which was at least the third NATO strike on the compound in Tripoli, two powerful guided bombs struck a multistory library and office building. Loose pages from books were scattered across the debris-filled ground covered by soot and water from fire trucks.

The blast also damaged a nearby reception hall, furnished with big sofas and chandeliers, where Gadhafi had met African leaders only two weeks earlier.

There are no comments - be the first to comment