Wed, May 25, 2011 - Page 1 News List

NATO unleashes air blitz on Tripoli

AFP, TRIPOLI

Powerful explosions rocked Tripoli yesterday as NATO unleashed its heaviest blitz yet of the capital, while France and Britain piled pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi by bringing helicopters into the Libya fray.

Meanwhile, top US official Jeffrey Feltman said that Libya’s rebels were to open a representative office in the US and that Washington sees them as “credible and legitimate representatives of the Libyan people.”

Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told reporters that at least three people died and 150 were wounded in the air strikes, which he said targeted a deserted military barracks, but which instead hit civilians living nearby.

A journalist said the raids lasting more than half an hour began at about 1am when powerful blasts were heard in the sector around Qaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya residence.

More than 15 strong blasts were heard in the neighborhood, with the sound of warplanes roaring overhead.

NATO rejected the claim that the strikes had targeted a barracks and said in fact a vehicle storage facility had been struck.

“Overnight, a regime vehicle storage facility adjacent to the Bab al-Aziziyah complex in Tripoli was struck by NATO aircraft using a number of precision guided weapons,” NATO operation’s commander Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard said in a statement.

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