Air strike flattens building in Gaddafi compound

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 leader’s life.

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.

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 spokesperson 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% of this amount. We are in need of urgent aid.”

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 training.

Abdel Jalil also said the rebels had received weapons from “friends and allies”, but did not specify which countries or organisations had donated them.

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
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 spokesperson 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 spokesperson Ahmed Bani told Reuters in Benghazi.

He said government loyalists might be trying to stoke tensions between Misrata and neighbouring 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 spokesperson 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 eastern entrance.”

At least three people were killed in the mountain town of Zintan, about 160km south-west of Tripoli, by fire from Gaddafi’s tanks and rockets, residents said. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lin Noueihed
Guest Author

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…