More blasts rock Libyan capital*
Mon May 23, 2011
Smoke rises above buildings following a NATO air strike in Tripoli on April 14, 2011.
A plume of smoke has risen in Tripoli after several large explosions from NATO airstrikes once again rocked the Libyan capital, killing at least three people.
Very loud blasts were heard and columns of smoke were seen in the early hours of Tuesday in the Bab Al-Aziziya district of Tripoli, where Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's residence is located, AFP reported.
The NATO airstrikes left at least three people dead and 150 others wounded, a Libyan government spokesman said.
Mussa Ibrahim told reporters that NATO had carried out "between 12 and 18 raids on a barracks of the people's guard" -- volunteer units who back up the army.
He added that most of the victims were civilians living nearby.
NATO says a vehicle storage facility near Gaddafi's residence was also hit in the strike.
The attacks are said to be the most intense since the start of NATO operations against the Gaddafi regime.
NATO warplanes have carried out thousands of airstrikes on Libya since late March, under a UN mandate.
The Western alliance force claims that it is targeting pro-Gaddafi troops, who have been at war with anti-regime forces during the past three months.
This is while reports say that many civilians have been killed in the UN-mandated offensive.
NATO itself has admitted to killing revolutionary fighters and civilians in an airstrike in eastern Libya but has refused to apologize for the deadly bombardment.
The attacks came after French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet confirmed media reports that France and Britain were deploying attack helicopters to NATO's Libya mission.
He said that both countries would deploy the new forces as soon as possible, an AFP report said.
The UK has yet to confirm the deployment.
Meanwhile, regime forces have also pounded the northwestern town of Zintan near the border with Tunisia.
Also, just outside the nearby town of Yafran there have been reports of a build-up of pro-Gaddafi troops.
Libyan troops have killed thousands of civilians since the revolution against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began in mid-February.