Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
NATO warplanes struck Tripoli early Tuesday in the heaviest bombing of the Libyan capital in weeks, while rebels reported battlefront successes in the east and west.
In the besieged port city of Misrata, the rebel’s only urban stronghold in the west, a doctor said rebel forces had pushed outward to Dafniya, a town on western outskirts.
The doctor, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said fighting was taking place both in Dafniya and near the airport south of Misrata. Were the rebels able to punch through past Dafniya, it would increase the prospects of a further advance through the coastal town of Zlitan and toward Tripoli itself.
The rebels posted video clips calling on Gadhafi’s forces in the area to surrender and saying they had advanced about 15 miles (25 kilometers) outward from central Misrata.
“We are after you Gadhafi,” one of the fighters in the video said.
In eastern Libya, rebels reported ongoing fighting between the towns of Ajdabiya and Brega.
A rebel commander, Zakaria al-Mismari, told reporters that Gadhafi’s forces had advanced on their positions with about a dozen vehicles on Monday, but were beaten back.
The rebel army has been bogged down for weeks near Ajdabiya, unable to move on to Brega, which has an oil terminal and Libya’s second-largest hydrocarbon complex.
Planes were heard from Ajdabiya later Monday, after the rebels said they had retreated because they were told NATO was launching airstrikes against Gadhafi forces there.
Rebel appeals for heavier arms from abroad have not met any response, although NATO is carrying out airstrikes on regime forces as many countries demand that Gadhafi — Libya’s autocratic ruler for 42 years — relinquish power.
In the latest strike, NATO planes hit at least four sites in Tripoli, setting off explosions that thundered through the city overnight. One strike hit a building that locals said was used by a military intelligence agency. Another targeted a government building that officials said was sometimes used by parliament members.
It was not immediately clear what the other two strikes hit, but one of them sent plumes of smoke that appeared to come from the sprawling compound housing members of Gadhafi’s family.
Between explosions, an aircraft dropped burning flares. Some residents responded by raking the sky with gunfire and beeping their horns.
The two sides have been locked in a standoff, with the rebels controlling most of eastern Libya, and Gadhafi most of the west, including Tripoli. Exceptions in the west include pockets of embattled rebel-held towns along the border with Tunisia, and Misrata on the coast.
The intensified air campaign comes as NATO faces criticism for not doing enough to break Gadhafi’s grip.
“We have succeeded in taking out a significant part of Gadhafi’s military, we have significantly degraded his war machine,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday during a visit to Atlanta. “So far our operation has been a success but there’s still work to do.”
NATO said the alliance could not comment immediately on Tuesday’s strikes in Tripoli but hoped to say something at a news conference later in the day.
In Tripoli, government escorts did not allow reporters near the site of one building that was hit in the NATO attack. Residents said the building, which had buckled from the bombing, was used by a military intelligence agency.
Reporters, who may not leave their Tripoli hotel without government escorts, were shown damage done to a nearby hospital. A physician, Dr. Mustafa Rahim, said a 4-year-old boy was badly injured, but would not allow reporters to see him, saying he was in intensive care.
Another strike targeted a building — struck once previously — that two employees said was used by parliament members and housed a library for research into Gadhafi’s writings.
The U.N. refugee agency, meanwhile, appealed to European countries to step up efforts to rescue people fleeing Libya in overloaded boats.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Melissa Fleming, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that any boat leaving Libya should be considered “a boat in need of assistance.”
Fleming said a senior Somali diplomat in Tripoli told the agency that 16 bodies, including those of two babies, have so far been retrieved from a boat carrying 600 people that sank just outside the Libyan capital Friday.
Faul reported from Benghazi, Libya. Associated Press writer Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed to this report.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)