TRIPOLI—A NATO airstrike on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s sprawling residential compound early Monday in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, destroyed at least one public building in his complex.
The Libyan government has accused NATO of trying to assassinate Gadhafi after two air strikes in three days hit sites in or near the compound where he is believed to direct military strategy. They claim that this is in violation of UN resolution after the office building and reception area was damaged.
“We regard it as an attempt to assassinate the leader and unifying figure of this country,” government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said, standing before the skeleton of the bombed building. “It was not a civilised act. This is an act of terrorism, an act worthy of mafia gangs, not governments.”
Ibrahim refused to comment on Gaddafi’s whereabouts, other than to say he was “in a safe place”, working from Tripoli and leading the battle for peace and democracy in Libya. The leader was in good health and high spirits, he added.
Another building, a ceremonial reception area where Gaddafi hosted a delegation from the African Union two weeks ago, including South African president Jacob Zuma, was damaged. Journalists were barred from inspecting a third damaged building.
A compound housing Libyan state television was hit in a separate strike near Tripoli’s old city, according to an official. Broadcasts went off air temporarily as a result, added Ibrahim.
Mufta Lamloom, a prominent member of the opposition Libyan National Movement, said the attack should serve as another warning to government supporters that the international community wants him to cede power.
NATO headquarters in Brussels confirmed the attack on the Gaddafi compound, describing the buildings as a legitimate target under the terms of the UN mandate empowering it to hit regime facilities that threaten the safety of Libyan civilians.
Published in Exclusive Partnership with Newsfromafrica.org