NATO warplanes strike Tripoli
Four sites in capital hit during heavy bombing, no reports of casualties
Bombs rocked Tripoli early Tuesday as NATO warplanes carried out an unusually heavy bombardment of the Libyan capital, sending smoke billowing over the city.
NATO struck at least four sites in Tripoli, including a multi-story building that local residents said was used by a military intelligence agency, and Muammar Gaddafi’s family complex.
Witnesses also reported seeing smoke rising near the headquarters of Libyan state television, AFP reports. There were no immediate reports of casualties, and it was not clear what other locations had been hit. NATO said that this morning’s bombing campaign on Tripoli was not specifically targeting Gaddafi.
The Libyan government said that four children had been injured, two of them seriously, by flying glass caused by the strikes.
The bombing blitz came hours after NATO leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that time was running out for Muammar Gaddafi.
He said the Libyan leader "should realize sooner rather than later that there's no future for him or his regime."
NATO began a campaign to oust Gaddafi in March, and has recently stepped up the pace of the airstrikes. The United Nations said Monday that three-quarters of a million people have fled Libya since Gaddafi launched his offensive against anti-regime demonstrators.
Heavy fighting was reported late Monday in the east of the country, near the town of Ajdabiya, south of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
In the western port of Misrata, rebels said they are driving back Gaddafi’s forces, which have besieged the city for more than two months. The rebels reportedly took control of a stretch of the coastal road to the west of the city.
The fighting has been heaviest in and around Misrata, and the city is reeling from a severe lack of basic supplies. U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos has called for a pause in the fighting to ease the humanitarian crisis, highlighting the dire shortage of food and water in Misrata, the BBC reports.
"Widespread shortages are paralyzing the country in ways which will impact gravely on the general population in the months ahead, particularly for the poorest and the most vulnerable," she told the U.N. Security Council.
The International Organization for Migration said there were accounts that an overloaded boat carrying up to 600 people fleeing Misrata had capsized off the Libyan coast Friday.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday appealed to European countries to step up efforts to rescue people fleeing Libya in unseaworthy boats.
Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that "any boat that is leaving Libya should be considered, at first glance, as a boat in need of assistance," the Associated Press reported.
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.