25 Apr 2011

Libya: Nato strikes Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound

An air strike by Nato forces flattens a building inside Colonel Gaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound in Tripoli. Meanwhile, government troops are reported to have resumed bombardment of Misrata.

A Nato air strike has flattened a building inside Colonel Gaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound in Tripoli.

A Libya government press official claimed the attack was an attempt on the Libyan leader’s life. He said 45 people had been hurt in the strike, 15 of them seriously.

The Bab al-Azizia compound has been hit before, but Nato appears to have stepped up the pace of attacks in recent days.

Three hours after loud explosions shook the Libyan capital, journalists were brought on a government-organised trip to the scene. They saw firefighters still working to extinguish flames in part of the ruined building.

Yesterday Jonathan Miller reported for Channel 4 News on the restrictions imposed on foreign journalists reporting in Tripoli by the Libyan government.

He said: “For the past eight weeks, journalists reporting from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, have faced severe restrictions imposed by the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

“Foreign news teams have been corralled into a Tripoli hotel and prevented from leaving unless accompanied by government minders – and then, only to approved locations.”

Meanwhile, Libya government troops were reported to have resumed bombardment of the rebel-held city of Misrata on Sunday, one day after announcing they would withdraw following a two-month siege.

Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, confirmed that the army would withdraw, but said it had fired back when retreating troops were attacked.

The government says its army is withdrawing from Misrata and sending in armed tribesmen instead. Rebels fear this may be a ruse to stir up violence between rebels and locals in nearby towns.

Interviewed by Jonathan Miller on 24 April, Moussa Ibrahim told Channel 4 News: “We do believe that the world needs to see what’s happening in Misrata. But every time we take journalists there, we’re faced with fire, with bullets, with attacks by the rebels.”

10 days ago Conservative MP John Baron requested a recall of Parliament amid fears that the allied mission in Libya has become focused on regime change, which is illegal under international law.

The demand was prompted by an article published jointly by Prime Minister Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama, in which they said it would be “unthinkable” to leave Colondel Gaddafi in power in Libya.