NATO Airstrikes Pound Tripoli Targets

Firemen and rescue personnel work at the scene of where two explosions were heard around 1:30am local time in the Libyan capital Tripoli. Pressure is mounting on Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi after the International Criminal Court prosecutor applied for an arrest warrant for him and NATO jets pounded his capital. (AFP/Str)

NATO Airstrikes Pound Tripoli Targets

Security services building and anti-corruption agency hit in overnight strikes as NATO steps up bombing campaign.

A security services building and the headquarters of Libya's anti-corruption agency in Tripoli have been set ablaze after being hit by apparent NATO air strikes.

The two buildings on Al-Jumhuriya Avenue are close to the residence of leader Muammar Gaddafi, in an area where two explosions were heard at around 1.30am on Tuesday (1130 GMT).

By 3am firefighters were battling to control flames that were tearing through the two facing buildings, according to an AFP correspondent brought to the area by Libyan authorities.

The head of Libya's Ministry for Inspection and Popular Control, the anti-corruption agency, was at the scene and said that some ministry employees had been injured, but provided no further details.

Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim later said that the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), based in eastern city of Benghazi, had directed NATO to attack the agency in a bid to destroy files related to former regime officials who have joined the rebellion.

"We believe that NATO has been misled to destroy files on their corruption cases," he told reporters.

Three explosions had also been heard earlier in the same area.

Parts of Tripoli have been targeted almost daily by NATO-led strikes carried out since a March 19 UN resolution called for the protection of civilians from Gaddafi's regime.

The assertion that Gaddafi is authorising the killing of civilians in a crackdown on anti-government rebels has prompted the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor to seek arrest warrants on Monday for the Libyan leader, his son and the country's intelligence chief.

Arrest warrants

Gaddafi's government denied the allegations.

The call for arrest warrants is the first such action in the Netherlands-based court linked to the Arab uprisings.

The warrants could further isolate Gaddafi and his inner circle and potentially complicate the options for a negotiated settlement.

But they could also harden his resolve to stand and fight, since the legal action has been seen in Libya as giving NATO more justification to go after him.

Because the United Nations Security Council ordered the ICC investigation, UN member states would be obliged to arrest him if he ventured into their territory.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he was seeking warrants against Gaddafi, his son, Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi for ordering, planning and participating in illegal attacks.

Moreno-Ocampo said he had evidence that Gaddafi's forces attacked civilians in their homes, shot at demonstrators with live ammunition, shelled funeral processions and deployed snipers to kill people leaving mosques.

Judges must now evaluate the evidence before deciding whether to confirm the charges and issue international arrest warrants.

Still, an earlier case where the ICC did step in at the request of the UN did not result in the desired arrest.

Although Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has been indicted for crimes including genocide in the Darfur
region of Sudan, at least three countries have allowed him to visit without detaining him.

Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli that the government would pay no attention to the arrest warrants, saying the prosecutor had relied on faulty media reports and reached "incoherent conclusions".

In the eastern city of Benghazi, headquarters for the opposition movement, rebel spokesman Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga said the rebels welcomed the ICC case.

"It is these three individuals who are primarily running the campaign for genocide of the Libyan people and the criminal activities that have taken place so far," he said at a news conference.

He said, however, that the opposition would like to see Gaddafi tried first in Libya, then before the world body.

During Gaddafi's more than four decades in power, the regime had "committed many crimes against the Libyan people, and the Libyan people want to see him punished for that,'' Ghoga said.

In Brussels, NATO said Moreno-Ocampo's announcement was "further proof that the international isolation of the Gadhafi regime is growing every day".

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