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Rediff.com  » News » In PHOTOS: Rockets pummel Libya for third night

In PHOTOS: Rockets pummel Libya for third night

Last updated on: March 22, 2011 14:51 IST

In PHOTOS: Rockets pummel Libya for third night

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Loud explosions and anti-aircraft fire rang across the Libyan capital for the third night in running as coalition bombers and missiles struck targets, including Muammar Gaddafi's Tripoli compound and a big naval base on the outskirts of the city.

The allied firepower also targeted Gaddafi's stronghold of Zuwarah, Sirte, Sebha as well as the embattled city of Ajdabiya as indications emerged that the no-fly zone over Libya is going to be widened to cover almost 1,000 km.

The awesome blitzkrieg, a top United States general said, had virtually frozen Gaddafi's advance in the key rebel city of Benghazi, handing back some momentum to the rebels, who were on the verge of being overrun just last week
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Image: Smoke from a tank shell explosion rises over rebel vehicles just outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah
Photographs: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters
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The sky above the Libyan capital lit up with anti-aircraft fire after explosions were heard again on Monday night," BBC correspondent reported from the city.

The Libyan television reported that a missile hit a spot near Gaddafi's sprawling Bab al-Aziza compound without elaborating.

Similar explosions rocked the capital on Sunday night with coalition officials saying that an administrative command and control centre in Gaddafi's fortified complex had been destroyed by a cruise missile.

The state television also said that a Libyan naval base, 10 km east of the capital, was also hit on Monday night.

Image: Libyan army fire anti-aircraft rounds during air strikes by coalition forces in Tripoli
Photographs: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters
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Al Jazeera said the Bussetta base was completely destroyed by missile and air attacks.

The Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said that southern town of Sebha, bastion of Gaddafi's Guedefa tribe, had also been attacked and these strikes had caused numerous civilian casualties.

Though battered by constant air and missile strikes, the Libyan government forces continued to engage in scattered fighting, defying the United Nations resolution, which demand an immediate ceasefire by Gaddafi's troops and an end to attack on civilians.

Image: A Danish F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from the tarmac of the Sigonella NATO Airbase on the southern Italian island of Sicily
Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Al Jazeera reported heavy fighting was going on for control of the town of Misruta, Libya's third largest town located 214 km east of Tripoli.

While, Gaddafi's spokesman claimed that the government troops has stormed into the city three days ago, a rebel spokesman said that street fighting was on in the city and they have repelled Gaddafi's men.

The Arab channel quoted witnesses as saying that Gaddafi's tanks and snipers have shot dead more than 40 people and left 400 wounded in battles on the outskirts of the city.

Image: People walk next to destroyed weapons belonging to Gaddafi's forces, after a coalition air strike, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah
Photographs: Suhaib Salem/Reuters
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Taking advantage of a heavy toll taken by coalition bombers on Gaddafi's tanks and armoured vehicles, the ragtag rebels chased the retreating columns of government troops right into the outskirts of Ajdabiya, but were beaten back by heavily armed forces manning the city defences.

On the way, the rebels have swept into the oil port off Zwitina, just northeast of Ajdabiya, which was scene of heavy fighting last week.

Image: A man holds up a round of ammunition at the road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah
Photographs: Suhaib Salem/Reuters
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Meanwhile, a top US commander in the region, General Carter Ham, said moves were afoot to extend a no-fly zone in Libya to cover "about 1,000 km" from Benghazi to Tripoli.

Briefing Pentagon reporters on the situation over satellite from Germany, Ham claimed that three nights of strikes had almost degraded Gaddafi's capabilities to wage a war on his people.

He said that Gaddafi's forces in the vicinity of Benghazi "now possess little will or capability to resume offensive operations."

Image: A man looks at destroyed weapons belonging to Gaddafi's forces, after a coalition air strike near Benghazi
Photographs: Suhaib Salem/Reuters
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Al Jazeera as well as Western television channels showed footage of a highway running between Benghazi and Ajdabiya littered with burnt out husk of Gaddafi's tanks and armoured personnel carrier hit by air strikes as they scrambled back to Ajdabiya.

General Ham said he had little indication of whereabouts of Gaddafi or his family. "Locating or attacking Gaddafi is not the mission of coalition military," he said.

Image: Rebels celebrate in a vehicle along the road near Benghazi
Photographs: Suhaib Salem/Reuters
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