Libya is once again under attack from NATO air forces as Tripoli was bombarded with air strikes on Sunday.
As Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi called the latest attacks on his regime “a colonial plot,” bombs fell on military targets throughout the country’s capital.
“In Tripoli there were two command and control nodes, two surface-to-air missile launchers and one anti-aircraft gun (hit),”
the NATO official said from the mission’s headquarters in Naples, Italy.
Smoke was reported rising above Gaddafi’s residential complex which is within the heart of Tripoli, with other strikes witnessed in the southeastern and eastern suburbs.
Gaddafi Calls Attacks ‘Colonial Plot’
Gaddafi addressed his nation and the international community via an audio broadcast on state television late on Saturday after the bombardments. He said that the unrest which has been brewing since mid-February this year was a ‘colonial plot,’ but he did not explain further. Gaddafi also said that he is not guilty of brutal suppression of protestors in Libya, and denied that accusations of the international community that he has killed thousands of anti-government protestors.
“They lie to you and say, ‘Libya kills its people with bullets, that is why we have come to protect civilians’,”
Gaddafi said, referring to the NATO air attacks which were allowed by the United Nations to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s brutal rule.
The most recent NATO air strikes are in retaliation for government attacks on rebel forces to the east of Tripoli, where rebels say they lost 16 fighters.
“Sixteen of our fighters have fallen as martyrs and 126 more have been wounded in fighting with loyalist troops in Zliten,” rebels declared in a statement. They described heavy fighting in the suburban town of Souk al-Thulatha.
Rebel fighters have been attempting for several weeks to take Zliten, which is 120 miles from Tripoli and 25 miles west of Misrata. Zliten is the last coastal city between rebel-held Misrata and Tripoli, making it an important strategic location.