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NATO Pounds Tripoli Targets; Pressure Mounts on Gadhafi


Libyan policemen stand next to a destroyed building that officials said was struck by a NATO airstrike in Tripoli, June 16, 2011

Libyan policemen stand next to a destroyed building that officials said was struck by a NATO airstrike in Tripoli, June 16, 2011

NATO fighter jets pounded targets near Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's Tripoli compound on Thursday while Russia and Italy led new diplomatic efforts to resolve Libya's crisis.

A series of thunderous booms rocked the capital city and a column of smoke could be seen rising from near Mr. Gadhafi's Bab-al-Aziziya compound early Thursday. It was not immediately clear what had been hit.

Meanwhile, Italy says it will host a meeting of Libyan tribal leaders to help promote reconciliation. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday that up to 300 tribal representatives will attend the meeting in Rome. He did not specify the date.

Also Thursday, Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov met with Libyan government officials in Tripoli. He said officials told him that Mr. Gadhafi was not ready to step down, despite growing calls for his resignation.

Russian news agencies quote Margelov as saying Libyan government officials had assured him that direct contacts between the government and rebels based in Benghazi were underway.

Spain is ejecting Libyan ambassador Ageli Abdussalam Ali Breni and three embassy staffers from the country. The Spanish government announced the decision on Thursday, saying Mr. Gadhafi's regime has lost its legitimacy.

On Wednesday, forces loyal to the Libyan leader bombarded rebel positions in the Western Mountains region.

Rebels, meanwhile, made advances from the port city of Misrata toward Zlitan, about 135 kilometers east of Tripoli.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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