NATO has launched more airstrikes near the residence of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as global powers gathered to discuss a Libya without him.
Loud explosions rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli late Wednesday, with the first bombs striking an area near Gadhafi's compound and the second attack near a hotel where foreign journalists have been staying. A Libyan government spokesman said NATO dropped more than 60 bombs throughout the day, killing 31 people and injuring dozens of others.
While NATO continued its air bombardment, Western and Arab nations gathered in the United Arab Emirates Thursday for talks to plan a Libya after Gadhafi is forced out.
The group is also expected to discuss measures to activate a fund agreed to in May that would provide financial and other assistance to the Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council.
Foreign ministers from the 22-nation Libyan Contact Group, which includes the U.S., France, Britain and Italy, as well as delegates from the United Nations, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and other regional bodies, will attend the meeting.
On Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates challenged five key military allies to assume a greater share of the NATO-led air campaign against Gadhafi's forces.
At a NATO meeting in Brussels, Gates said the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey should enhance their limited participation by joining in strike missions against ground targets. He also called on Germany and Poland, two countries not active at all militarily in Libya, to help in some form.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance is preparing for a Libya without its authoritarian leader. The NATO chief said Gadhafi's departure is no longer a question of "if" he goes, but rather "when."
NATO is operating under a U.N. mandate that calls for taking all necessary measures other than occupation to protect civilians and civilian areas from attack by Gadhafi's forces.
Also Wednesday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said investigators have evidence that Gadhafi ordered mass rapes of women considered disloyal to his regime. Luis Moreno-Ocampo said his team is looking into whether the Libyan leader provided soldiers with Viagra-like medicines in order to promote the rape of women. He said he may present new charges of mass rape against Gadhafi.
Separately, the U.N. special envoy for Libya arrived in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi Wednesday for talks with opposition leaders. Jordanian AbdulIlah al-Khatib came from Tripoli, where he reportedly held talks with officials from Gadhafi's government.