Waves of NATO aircraft hit Tripoli on Tuesday in the most sustained bombardment of the Libyan capital since Western forces began air strikes in March.
By Tuesday afternoon, war planes were striking different parts of the city several times an hour, hour after hour, rattling windows and sending clouds of grey smoke into the sky, a Reuters correspondent in the center of the city said.
The Libyan government attributed earlier blasts to NATO air strikes on military compounds in the capital, a day after rebels drove Muammar Gaddafi’s forces out of a western town.
Bombs have been striking the city every few hours since Monday, at a steadily increasing pace. On Tuesday they began before 11 a.m. (5 a.m. ET) and were continuing five hours later.
Air strikes were previously rarer and usually at night.
The New York Times reports:
The nightly propaganda tour to NATO bombing sites around the Libyan capital — the main component of every foreign reporter’s routine in a city controlled by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi — led to a rustic backyard in the predawn hours of Monday where a family with several small, frightened children, said to have been dining outside late into the night, had supposedly endured a narrow escape from a NATO missile.
But a NATO missile with Cyrillic script on its components? With that discovery from the wreckage, the official briefing about 50 journalists paused in his fulminations against NATO, but only to recalibrate his account. Yes, he said, it was a Russian missile, part of Libya’s armory, but it had reached the backyard by what foreign reporters familiar with arcade games quickly dubbed the “bank shot” or “pinball” method.
In that sequence, a NATO bomb or missile first hits a Libyan arsenal somewhere out in the dark, igniting the Russian missile and sending it blasting off into the night. The effect, the handler said, was the same, regardless of the missile’s provenance. NATO had nearly killed innocent Libyan civilians.
“It is an aggression,” he said. “It is evil.”
The Libyan government has a growing record of improbable statements and carefully manipulated news events, but four months into the conflict here, it is showing signs of desperation and disorganization. The loyalist locker seems increasingly bare.
The Associated Press reports:
The small note in curly handwriting was quietly passed by a medic to a foreign reporter in a Tripoli hospital.
Its hastily scrawled contents suggested that Libyan officials were lying when they said a baby girl was wounded in a NATO attack. Government officials had bused reporters to the Tripoli Central Hospital to see the baby, whom they identified as Haneen.
She lay on a stark hospital cot, with colorful tubes attached to her body. Her foot was bandaged.
“This is a case of road traffic accident,” the medic’s note read.
“This is the trouth,” said the last line, the word misspelled.
That small scrap of paper underlines the absurdity confronting reporters who try to cover Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
It appears that officials exaggerate the scope of and casualties from two months of NATO airstrikes that have targeted sites critical to Gadhafi. Regime officials try to prove that alliance strikes, instead of protecting Libyan civilians, is doing them harm.
Those thundering NATO strikes do sometimes kill and wound civilians. They do cause damage to homes, hospitals and roads.
But some government officials appear determined, understandably, to exagerate the damage done and casualties caused.