Nato has launched more air strikes in Tripoli as Muammar Gaddafi’s regime faced open defiance on the ground, with activists reporting gunfights between protesters and soldiers in parts of the capital.
The protests, coupled with worsening shortages of fuel and other goods, have prompted rebels to predict that Gaddafi’s hold on the capital may be in jeopardy.
The sound of two air strikes could be heard in Tripoli early today, though it was not immediately clear what they targeted.
On Thursday, Gaddafi’s fortified compound in the capital was among the targets as Nato carried out 52 strike missions across Libya. Other targets included anti-aircraft missile launchers near Tripoli and several buildings and gun emplacements being used by regime forces in their siege of the rebel-held port city of Misrata.
Diplomatic pressure also ratcheted up. In Washington, a rebel delegation was meeting today with officials at the White House.
And in the Hague, Netherlands, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants on Monday for three senior Libyan leaders for murder and persecution – with Gaddafi expected to be among them.
An anti-government activist in Tripoli said today protests have occurred this week in at least three neighbourhoods in the city, accompanied by exchanges of gunfire between opposition activists and Gaddafi forces.
The crackle of gunfire could be heard in a separate neighbourhood close to a hotel where foreign reporters reside.
The activist’s report echoed those made earlier by a local journalist and resident.
Reporters cannot independently confirm the information because they may not leave their Tripoli hotel without government minders.
The activist said residents are deeply frustrated by a severe fuel shortage that forces some motorists to spend up to three days in line at petrol stations.
He added there were severe shortages in medicine, and the price of some basic foods had doubled or tripled.
The International Organisation for Migration said it has been airlifting hundreds of migrants who had fled Libya and were stranded in remote areas in Northern Chad. More than 1,500 migrants had been flown to the Chadian cities of Abeche or N’Djamena, where medical care is available.