Explosions, anti-aircraft rounds rock Tripoli

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 7:01 PM

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Explosions and anti-aircraft rounds rattled Tripoli for a third night on Monday, and state television said several sites in the capital had come under attacks by what it called the "crusader enemy."

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosions in Tripoli -- the main power base of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Barrages of anti-aircraft tracer fire crisscrossed the night sky in random directions as gunners appeared to try to shoot down coalition warplanes. At least two explosions rocked the city of about 2 million people.

"These attacks are not going to scare the Libyan people," said a state television broadcast. There was no immediate comment from Western forces.

Gunfire rung out throughout the night and pro-Gaddafi slogans echoed around the city center. Cars sped through Tripoli streets honking wildly.

One Tripoli resident said he had heard a blast in the southern outskirts of the city but its exact location was not clear. Movements by foreign journalists in the capital have been restricted by the government.

A day earlier, Libyan officials took journalists to Gaddafi's fortified compound to show the wreckage of a building they said was destroyed by an allied missile late on Sunday.

Coalition forces say they are targeting air defenses to enforce a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone and protect civilians from government forces fighting to crush a month-long rebellion.

Libya's government says dozens of civilians have been killed in the allied jet fighter and missile attacks. France said it had no evidence of civilian losses.

Journalists have not been allowed to visit hospitals or any sites of attacks on civilian areas.

Gaddafi has flooded his heavily fortified compound with crowds of flag-waving supporters to create a human shield against possible allied air strikes.

(Reporting by Maria Golovnina)