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Three dead, 150 wounded in NATO raids: Libya

24 may 2011, 11:06
0
Medics bringing in an injured man at a hospital in Tripoli. ©AFP
Medics bringing in an injured man at a hospital in Tripoli. ©AFP
At least three people died and 150 were wounded as NATO warplanes hit the Libyan capital Tripoli early Tuesday, government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told reporters, AFP reports.

"According to the information we have there are three dead and 150 wounded," he told journalists on a bus taking them to a hospital shortly after the strikes.

Ibrahim said NATO had carried out "between 12 and 18 raids on a barracks of the people's guard", volunteer units who back up the army.

"The barracks was empty. Most of the victims were civilians living nearby," the spokesman added.

An AFP journalist said the raids lasting more than half an hour began at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Monday) when powerful blasts were heard in the sector around leader Moamer Kadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya residence.

They were preceded by a whistling noise and the formation of red balls in the sky, a witness said.

More than 15 strong blasts were heard in the neighbourhood, with the sound of warplanes roaring overhead.

At the hospital on Zawiyah Avenue not far from the targeted barracks, an AFP journalist saw three bodies laid out on stretchers.

The three young men had severe head wounds, probably from shell fragments. Witnesses said the two brothers and a cousin lived on Essug Avenue near the barracks in the Bab Al-Aziziya district.

"They'd come out after the first raids to see what was happening. But they were seriously wounded by the following bombings," said one witness who told AFP he was a neighbour.

In other wards of the hospital nurses looked after a dozen injured people. "Other wounded persons were sent to other hospitals," Ibrahim said.

Fathallah Salem, who lives on Essug Avenue and said she had brought her frightened mother to the hospital, said: "In Tripoli our houses are close to the barracks. You can imagine our terror and that of our families each time there are bombings."

It was the most intense raid since the start of NATO operations against Kadhafi's regime.

The Bab al-Aziziya sector has already been targeted several times by NATO aircraft.

Tripoli is targeted nearly daily with air raids by the international coalition, which launched strikes on March 19 to prevent strongman Kadhafi's forces from attacking civilians.

NATO took over command of the operation on March 31.

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