Tripoli’s five-star Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel, where numerous foreign journalists were based in recent days, came under attack Thursday.
“Heavy shooting is going on in central Tripoli just at the doorstep of our hotel. Street battle. Sniper fire. Hotel under gunfire attack,” an Agence France-Presse correspondent reported in a brief email.
“Update as soon as safe. Can’t keep filing from rooftop.”
The exchange of gunfire between rebels and Moammar Kadafi loyalists lasted about 40 minutes, ending about 2:30 p.m., another AFP correspondent said.
On a rooftop about 300 yards from the luxury hotel, a green Kadafi flag was raised. A rebel said there were snipers on a nearby rooftop, “but we haven’t yet managed to find them.”
Meanwhile, rebel pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns converged on the hotel. Fighters carrying small arms and rocket launchers took over the top floor of the hotel, which overlooks the surrounding neighborhood, Tripoli's Old City.
The hotel is about three miles from the now famous Rixos Hotel, where about 40 journalists were freed Wednesday after being held hostage for three days by Kadafi guards.
CNN's Matthew Chance and some of the others were seen embracing in the lobby of the Corinthia, where they later joined other journalists.
Gunfire aside, it was quite a step up.
Situated on the shores of the Mediterranean, the Corinthia (part of an international chain) features a massive outdoor pool, a few posh restaurants (Italian, French, Moroccan) and is within walking distance of Green Square. now known as Martyr's Square.