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Libya: missile destroys Gaddafi building

March 21, 2011

Telegraph.co.uk

Libya: missile destroys Gaddafi building

Tracer fire fills the sky from anti-aircraft fire above the hotel where foreign media and government officials are staying in Tripoli Photo: AP

Libyan officials claimed that the strike on his Bab al-Azizia leadership compound amounted to an attempt to assassinate the long serving leader.

A huge plume of smoke rose from the site of an three-storey administrative building just 100 yards from the tent in the compound used by Col Gaddafi for media interviews and high level visits.

There were no reported casualties but the front of the building had collasped.

A crowd of loyalists gathered near the collapsed building to denounce the first attack on the Libyan leader’s personal citadel

Officials said the building was an administrative bloc not connected with the military. Shrapnel was recovered from the scene and the whiff of missile propellent lingered a few hours later.

Hundreds of people have been admitted to the compound to stage rallies defending the Libyan regime from charges that it slaughtering its own people to regain territory lost in last month’s uprising.

The reported strike came after Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said it would be “unwise” to have coalition forces try to kill Col Muammar Gaddafi in military strikes in Libya.

Asked about remarks by British counterpart Liam Fox suggesting targeting Gaddafi himself, Mr Gates said the allied operation should stick to the parameters as authorised by the UN Security Council.

“I think that it’s important that we operate within the mandate of the UN Security Council resolution,” he said.

Mr Gates, who was speaking on a US military plane en route to Russia, said the intervention was backed by “a very diverse coalition” and warned that expanding its goals could complicate the consensus around the UN resolution.

“If we start adding additional objectives then I think we create a problem in that respect,” he said. “I also think it’s unwise to set as specific goals things that you may or may not be able to achieve.”

He also expressed caution about providing direct support to rebel forces and referred to a long term “process” that could see Gaddafi toppled.

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