NATO airstrike kills three in Tripoli, Gaddafi safe

NATO airstrike kills three in Tripoli, Gaddafi safe

Heavy explosions have rocked Libya's capital here as NATO forces renewed attacks on government forces in the city, Xinhua reported.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces increased their shelling and use of tank fire in residential areas of the city, regional broadcaster Al Jazeera reported.

NATO bombed Gaddafi's Tripoli residence early Monday morning in an attack described by the Libyan government as an attempt on Gaddafi's life.

The overnight airstrike killed three people and wounded 45 others, but Gaddafi himself was safe, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said.

Gaddafi's office in the compound, where he often held ministerial and other meetings, was destroyed along with another multi-story structure.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the attacks were not an attempt by NATO to effect regime change in Libya.

"It is certainly not the policy of the coalition, of this administration, to decapitate, or to effect regime change in Libya by force," he told reporters.

He insisted the goal of the military mission remained "clear," which was to "protect the civilian population, enforce the no-fly zone, and enforce the arms embargo."

Carney avoided getting further into Monday's bombing by referring reporters to NATO about the "specific decisions in terms of bombing missions."

Also on Monday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said his country was ready "to intensify its military action" in Libya by taking part in the NATO air raids against Gaddafi's military sites.

In a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama, Berlusconi said Italy "had decided to positively reply to the requests by NATO to boost the efficiency of its military participation in the Libyan mission," according to a statement issued by the premier's office.

"Italy has decided to increase the operative flexibility of its planes by means of aimed actions against specific military targets belonging to Gaddafi's regime with the goal of defending the Libyan civil population," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci criticized what he said were attempts by the Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC) to change his country's position towards the crisis, which was based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others.

"Some people in Benghazi supported by other parties tried to bring Algeria to change its diplomatic position, which is totally impossible," local El Chourouk newspaper quoted Medelci as saying in an interview.

Libyan rebels have accused Algeria of supporting Gaddafi and his regime but Algeria says this is far from the situation.

Medelci also said his country totally supported the African Union's (AU) push to mediate an early solution to the current conflict.

Noting that the AU "is the only body to negotiate with both parties in Libya," Medelci said "the crisis must be solved away from narrow views that have so far allowed the NTC to confuse and distort reality."

"The reality is that parties are fuelling violence in Libya and others are working for peace, and Algeria is clearly part of the second category," Medelci said.

In other developments, NTC representatives have met with the AU officials for the first time at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Gaddafi's representatives, led by Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi, also met with the AU officials on the same day.

The meeting was an update on the evolution of the situation in Libya and on the efforts to resolve the crisis.

A spokesperson for the AU Commission chairperson said the presence of the opposition representatives sent a significant message that they would continue to interact and cooperate.

Asked whether they accepted the AU's proposal for resolving the crisis peacefully, the opposition representatives said the proposal was still under study.

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