NATO Hits Bunker in Libyan Leader’s Hometown

Posted August 26th, 2011 at 9:00 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO warplanes have pounded a large bunker in Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's hometown, Sirte, as opposition fighters moved toward the coastal city for a battle with pro-Gadhafi forces.

Britain said Friday that its warplanes fired precision-guided missiles at the Sirte bunker complex overnight. British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said NATO was not specifically targeting Mr. Gadhafi and that the airstrikes were designed to make sure he and his forces could no longer “continue waging war.”

In addition to massing near Sirte, opposition forces were battling pockets of pro-Gadhafi fighters in Tripoli.

The al-Jazeera television network says clashes also erupted Friday near the Tunisian border.

Also Friday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that African, Arab and European organizations have agreed that the Libyan crisis has entered a “a new and decisive phase.'' He said the international community was ready to send a police force into Libya — if requested — saying the country is “awash in small arms.”

He said the international community also needs to help Libya deal with shortages of fuel, food, medical supplies and water.

Separately, the International Organization for Migration announced it had sent another ship to evacuate foreigners from Tripoli and deliver some 50 humanitarian workers. Late Thursday, a IOM charter ship left the city with 263 migrants on board.

Fierce gunbattles rang out in the capital on Thursday, as Mr. Gadhafi used a short audio broadcast to rally his supporters and denounce foreign countries for their involvement in the conflict.

Meanwhile in Tripoli, foreign correspondents viewed the bodies of more than 40 people who appeared to have been executed. It was not clear who killed them, but some of the victims had darker skin tones typical of Africans who composed a large part of Gadhafi's army.