Blasts Hit Tripoli, Easing Gadhafi's Hold On Power
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
Libyan state television had an interruption in regular programming last night. Moammar Gadhafi appeared on screen in what the government said was a live appearance.
Colonel MOAMMAR GADHAFI (Libyan Leader): (Foreign language spoken)
INSKEEP: We will not give up, the leader said. Libyans are laughing at these rockets - end quote.
Just before sunrise in Tripoli, people woke up to more explosions as well as anti-aircraft fire.
NPR's David Greene has been out inspecting the damage to buildings, and to Gadhafi's grip on the city.
(Soundbite of banging)
DAVID GREENE: We're being toured(ph) around what's this peninsula that sticks out onto the Mediterranean Sea with a number of warehouses. It's a naval base, and several buildings just absolutely destroyed. I'm looking at one right now. The metal roof has sort of caved in. There are pieces of metal hanging down. We've seen large craters where bombs apparently have hit. And we saw some vehicles that were Russian-made vehicles and carrying - usually launch Russian-made missiles. The missiles were not here, we're told, but the vehicles absolutely destroyed, just nothing left of them. This place is, the entire peninsula was hit very hard.
Unidentified Man #1: (Foreign language spoken)
GREENE: We are told, a captain told us that nobody was killed, no one was hurt, and he said thank God for that.
Captain ABDUL BASSETT (Libyan Officer): We have before - we leave this place, because maybe it exploded at anytime. Then we go far from this place. We go far away.
GREENE: Could you just give us your name, Captain?
Capt. BASSETT: Captain Abdul Bassett.
GREENE: Abdul Bassett.
Unidentified Man #2: Sir, have you trained - you speak good English - have you trained with other foreign forces before? Have you trained with Russian forces or with British forces?
Capt. BASSETT: Yes, yes, Libyan navy, we're training with French, we train with Italian. We have big training with the French Navy. You see last year, only one year, but everything has changed. They friend before, now they're enemy, enemy today.
GREENE: The visit to that navy yard was organized by the government, and journalists were watched at every step. But at times yesterday we slipped away from our government minders and found evidence of another kind of damage to Gadhafi.
Unidentified Man #3: People want him to go. But he says he's not going away. The majority of people have turned and want him to go away.
GREENE: This is what one man in Tripoli told us. We're withholding the man's name and voice for his safety. Plain-clothed security officers have been known to interrogate people after unauthorized interviews. Despite the risks, people seemed more eager than ever yesterday to reveal their feelings.
Unidentified Man #3: They are pretending to show that the population love Gadhafi, which is a lie. They are pretending. It's a lie.
GREENE: Tripoli is Gadhafi's stronghold, yet parts of the city rose up against him last month. There were demonstrations in the economically depressed neighborhood of Souq al Juma, but they were violently put down.
Another man we met lives in Souq al Juma. There's a battalion of soldiers in my neighborhood and they'll shoot, he said. Obama has got to get rid of Gadhafi. Everybody in Libya does not like Gadhafi.
(Soundbite of song)
GREENE: This song was inspired by an earlier Gadhafi speech. The leader vowed to wipe out the rebels zenga, zenga, alley by alley. A throng of supporters plays the song day and night in Tripoli's Green Square.
(Soundbite of song)
GREENE: As you get away from the main square with all the music, you come back to these alleyways where a lot of the shops are just closed up, and there's some people walking around and you meet people who are willing to talk like this.
Unidentified Man #4: Okay.
(Soundbite of chatter)
Unidentified Man #4: People in the last two weeks, two weeks ago, we make some revolution here. I can't talk too much. Ask me something. Maybe I will...
GREENE: Were you part of the revolution a few weeks ago?
Unidentified Man #4: Yes. But Benghazi is moving. Here, police and the military just can't say to(ph) anyone, or do anything.
GREENE: Why were you part of the revolution? Like why did you want change?
Unidentified Man #4: Change, like what? Okay.
GREENE: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.
Unidentified Man #4: Okay, you understand.
GREENE: A man had walked by twice and finally caught the eyes of my guest. The interview had to end.
David Greene, NPR News, Tripoli.
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