Wave of loud blasts rock Libyan capital

The rebel forces said the assault "seriously injured" a high-ranking member of Gaddafi`s security forces.

Tripoli: A wave of blasts rocked Tripoli
on Saturday, including the area housing Muammar Gaddafi`s complex,
as his regime denied rebels attacked Libya`s capital and
wounded a top security official.

At least seven powerful explosions were heard around
0450 IST, a news agency journalist reported, as state television
quoted a military official as saying NATO warplanes "are
currently bombing civilian sites in the capital Tripoli."

Two more explosions were heard in the same area at
about midday.

The raids are yet to be confirmed by NATO, which said
it struck a command centre in Tripoli yesterday as part of
UN-backed strikes launched against Gaddafi`s war machine in
late March to halt a crackdown on civilians.

It came after rebel forces said they lost 16 fighters
east of Tripoli yesterday but that they infiltrated the
capital and attacked a regime command post where a son of the
strongman was among officials targeted.

The rebel forces, who have been fighting to oust
Gaddafi for more than five months, said the assault "seriously
injured" a high-ranking member of Gaddafi`s security forces.

"Yesterday in Tripoli, there was an attack on an
operations centre of top regime officials, including Seif
al-Islam Gaddafi," National Transitional Council Vice
President Ali Essawy said after a meeting in Rome with Italian
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

"One person was left seriously injured," he said,
identifying the person as a high-ranking security official.

Frattini said the "rocket attack against an operations
centre" probably in a Tripoli hotel was aimed at "top
officials ... including Gaddafi`s son Seif, and the head of
the secret service, Abdullah al-Senussi."

Yesterday, unconfirmed rumours swirled that rebels in
Tripoli had tried to assassinate senior regime members that

Since the revolution began in mid-February, a number
of Tripoli-based groups have broadcast videos purporting to
show acts of civil disobedience in the heavily controlled

Libyan officials denied the attack occurred and
denounced as "criminal and unjustified" what they said were
NATO raids that killed six guards at a pipeline factory south
of an oil plant in the eastern town of Brega.

"There was no attack," government spokesman Mussa
Ibrahim told reporters in reference to the rebels` claims they
had launched a raid on a Tripoli command post.

Rebel forces, he said, were losing their battles in
the east of the country and to the southwest and trying "to
boost their morale with lies and small victories".

Elsewhere, the rebels said 16 of their men were killed
in two days of fighting for Zliten, the last coastal city
between insurgent-held Misrata and the capital.

"Sixteen of our fighters have fallen as martyrs and
126 more have been wounded in fighting with loyalist troops in
Zliten," said a rebel statement, with clashes said to be
particularly heavy in the suburb of Souk al-Thulatha.

The insurgents have been trying for weeks to take
Zliten, 200 kilometres (120 miles) from Tripoli and 40
kilometres west of Misrata.

The rebels say they have chased the bulk of Gaddafi`s
forces from Brega in the east and are poised to advance
towards the capital from Misrata and their other western
enclave in the Nafusa Mountains, southwest of Tripoli.

The Nafusa campaign is focused on taking Asabah,
gateway to the garrison town of Gharyan on the highway into

A rebel commander, Nasser al-Aaib, said Gaddafi troops
"are not moving because they don`t know the terrain; they are
afraid of being ambushed by the rebels, who know every inch of

In speeches aired by state television this week,
Gaddafi urged tribal leaders to march on Misrata while calling
the rebels` uprising a "lost cause" and ruling out any talks
with them.


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