Libyans attack U.S. embassy in Tripoli and set fire to one building after NATO strikes kill Gaddafi’s son and three grandchildren

May 2nd, 2011 by Staff

Libyans loyal to Moammar Gaddafi attacked the U.S., U.K. and Italian embassies in Tripoli today after a NATO missile strike on the tyrant’s compound killed his youngest son and three grandchildren.
A senior American official said three buildings in the U.S. embassy compound were attacked and looted. He did not state whether the attackers were members of the Libyan military.
One of the buildings was set on fire and the other two were occupied by Libyans. The blaze was put out by Tripoli firefighters, but the extent of the damage was unknown, the official said. Embassies belonging to the U.K. and Italy were also hit.

There are no U.S. personnel in Tripoli, and security for the embassy buildings had been provided by Turkey, which kept staff in the Libyan capital even after the U.N.-sanctioned campaign of air strikes against Gaddafi forces began.
The Gaddafi government announced early today that the dictator and his wife had survived a NATO attack on his compound, but that his son Saif Al-arab, was killed, along with three of Gadhafi’s grandchildren, all younger than 12 years old.
NATO confirmed that it struck “a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighborhood” of Tripoli Saturday evening, but denied that Gaddafi was the target of the attack.

‘All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Gaddafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas,” said Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector. ‘We do not target individuals.’
He said the strike was directed at a military target as part of the campaign to ‘stop and prevent attacks against civilians with precision and care.’

Mr Bouchard said: ‘I am aware of media reports that some of Gaddafi’s family members may have been killed.
‘We regret all loss of life, especially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict.’
The reports that members of Gaddafi’s family had been killed in the bombing brought criticism of NATO from Russia, which called for an immediate cease-fire and negotiations to end the conflict between Gaddafi and the rebel forces.

‘Statements by participants in the coalition that the strikes on Libya are not aimed at the physical destruction of … Gaddafi and members of his family raise serious doubts,’ a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
But NATO said it would continue operations against the Libyan military and all the troops loyal to Gaddafi, including mercenaries hired by the regime.

Since NATO took over the campaign of air strikes on March 31, Gaddafi has said several times that he was ordering a ceasefire, but the fighting has not stopped.
The NATO strike came as the Libyan ambassador to the U.K. was expelled after the British embassy was burnt by a crowd of angry protesters.

Television images show the building was completely gutted by the attack.
The United Nations says it has evacuated its international staff from Tripoli because of unrest in the Libyan capital.
Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said Sunday that 12 staffers had left the North African country and were now in neighbouring Tunisia.
She says the representatives from various U.N. agencies arrived in Tripoli shortly after U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos signed an agreement with the Libyan government on April 10 to allow U.N. agencies into the Libyan capital.

Saif Gaddafi had played an active role in seeking to quell the rebellion that has seen pro-democracy supporters gain control of the east of the country, including Benghazi.
While studying in Munich in 2006, he gained a reputation as a playboy and become involved in a nightclub brawl with a bouncer when his girlfriend was thrown out.
Two years later, his Ferrari was impounded by German police for excessive exhaust noise.

Later in 2008, he was suspected of attempting to smuggle an assault rifle, a revolver and munitions from Munich to Paris in a car with diplomatic number plates.
However, the case was later dropped as the alleged weapons were never found and the German public prosecutor decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution.
Gaddafi and his wife were in the Tripoli house hit by at least one bomb, according to Libya spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.

He said: ‘The leader himself is in good health. He was not harmed. The wife is also in good health.’
Mr Ibrahim would not give the names of the three children killed, but said they were nieces and nephews of Saif al-Arab and were all younger than 12.
He added: ‘It seems there was intelligence that was leaked. They knew about something. They expected him for some reason.
‘But the target was very clear, very, very clear. And the neighbourhood, yes of course, because the leader family has a place there, you could expect of course it would be guarded, but it is a normal neighbourhood.
‘Normal Libyans live there. This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country.’
He said the attacks had no legal, moral or political foundation.
Journalists at the scene reported seeing one unexploded device in a huge crater among the rubble of the house and said the roof had caved in. It is thought at least three missiles hit the building.
A bunker or reinforced cellar underneath the building was also breached.
Weeks of Western air strikes have failed to dislodge the Libyan leader and the war has instead become locked in a painful stalemate.
With neither side apparently able to gain the upper hand, Gaddafi struck a conciliatory tone in an 80-minute televised address to the nation in the early hours of Saturday.

‘(Libya) is ready until now to enter a ceasefire,’ said Gaddafi, speaking from behind a desk and aided by reams of paper covered in what appeared to be hand-written notes.
‘We were the first to welcome a ceasefire and we were the first to accept a ceasefire … but the Crusader NATO attack has not stopped,’ he said. ‘The gate to peace is open.’
Gaddafi denied mass attacks on civilians and challenged Nato to find him 1,000 people who had been killed in the conflict.
‘We did not attack them or cross the sea … why are they attacking us?’ asked Gaddafi, referring to European countries involved in the air strikes. ‘Let us negotiate with you, the countries that attack us. Let us negotiate.’
But as he spoke, NATO warplanes hit three targets close to the television building in Tripoli in what state media said was an attempt to kill Gaddafi who has ruled Libya for 41 years.
The air strikes left a large crater outside the attorney general’s office but did not damage the building and hit two other government offices housed in colonial-era buildings.
It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
Previous ceasefire offers have been rebuffed by NATO as Libyan government forces have continued to fight on.

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