Gadhafi Compound Bombed in Attempt to Cripple Communications

Mar 21, 2011, 06:59 by David Hope

Moammar Gadhafi's compound was in shambles Monday, but the whereabouts and plans of the leader remained unknown. An international coalition military official said the compound -- not Gadhafi and his residence -- was targeted because it could be used to exercise command and control over Libyan forces, CNN reported.

"We are not going after Gadhafi," U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney told a press briefing in Washington. "Regime forces are more pressed and less free to maneuver."

"This attack was in contradiction to what the Americans and others have been saying, that it's not a priority to hit the leader," government spokesman Musa Ibrahim said.

Crowds of Gadhafi supporters chanted, "Down, down, USA," and "Death to Sarkozy," referring to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has taken a very public role in the campaign, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Near Benghazi -- the center of the Libyan opposition forces -- coalition forces struck a Libyan military convoy, destroying at least 70 vehicles, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, witnesses said.

The Libyan government claimed 48 people, mostly women, children and clerics, died in allied attacks that began Saturday. However, Gortney said, "We have no indication of any civilian casualties."

France, which conducted the first airstrike, also disputed the Libyan government's claims about the number dead and that they were civilians.

"There is no information of killed civilians recorded by the French command," French government spokesman Francois Baroin said Monday, warning against communication campaigns and propaganda.

After the initial bombardments, the leader of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, called the campaign "excessive," even as member state Qatar was moving fighter jets into position to begin patrols over Libya.

In Washington, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, asked Obama to clarify his objectives in Libya, the Los Angeles Times said.

"Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved," Boehner said in a statement.

U.S. officials said they expect to turn over operational control of the military mission in coming days, CNN reported. The coalition has nine other announced partners: Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar and Spain.

"One of the things that was very much on (U.S. President Obama's) mind is the importance of a meaningful coalition, meaning other countries making serious military contributions so the United States isn't carrying the pre-eminent responsibility for an indefinite period of time," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

Libyan government officials took journalists in Tripoli to what was supposed to be a funeral for civilians killed in the attacks, The New York Times reported. The funeral resembled a rally for Gadhafi, with people providing conflicting information about the dead.

Source: UPI