Babylon & Beyond

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LIBYA: Journalists survey damage at Kadafi's compound

March 20, 2011 |  6:07 pm


As antiaircraft fire lighted up the sky, journalists in the Libyan capital were taken by bus after midnight Sunday to survey the destruction at Moammar Kadafi's enormous compound on the first day of an international campaign aimed at imposing a no-fly zone over the country.

The journalists were driven past a few dozen Kadafi supporters and checkpoints manned by young men in military uniform into the Bab Azizia compound, a series of drab, low-lying buildings protected by concrete walls, barbed wire and hundreds of young militiamen brandishing semi-automatic weapons.

After undergoing searches, the journalists, joined by a crowd of frantic Kadafi supporters chanting slogans, were directed past the residence bombed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, across a grassy field, to a damaged administrative building.

The bombing had turned the center of the building — a three-story complex bearing a large stone eagle at one end — into a mound of wiring and tangled concrete. Metal girders stuck out from where the missile had sheared through.

Journalists rummaging through the wreckage found guidance and control parts consistent with an American-made cruise missile. One piece said it had been manufactured in 2006.

A coalition military official told CNN that Kadafi's compound was targeted because it contains command-and-control capabilities over Libyan forces. U.S. officials said Sunday that the mililtary campaign was not aimed at removing Kadafi from power but at protecting rebel-held areas from attack.

— Borzou Daragahi in Tripoli


Photo: Libyan government soldiers display pieces of shrapnel from a missile attack on a building inside Moammar Kadafi's Bab Azizia compound in Tripoli. Credit: Zohra Bensemra / Reuters