Embassies Attacked After Gadhafi Son's Reported Death

The British and Italian embassies in Tripoli were burned and ransacked Sunday after the Libyan government said a NATO missile strike killed the son of leader Moammar Gadhafi.

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GUY RAZ, host:

We're back with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

In Libya today, the embassies of the United Kingdom and Italy were ransacked. Vandals attacked and burned those buildings in the capital, Tripoli, after an overnight NATO bombing that government officials said killed one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons and three of his grandchildren.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is in eastern Libya, and she joins us on the line.

And, Lourdes, first of all, what do we know about what happened in Tripoli overnight and today?

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, following the alleged death of one of Gadhafi's youngest sons in a NATO strike overnight, the embassies of Italy and Britain were set alit in Tripoli today. Nothing, Guy, in Tripoli happened spontaneously. So it's pretty clear this was orchestrated by the government there.

The British government has responded by expelling Libya's top diplomat in the U.K. And due to the unrest, the United Nations mission in Tripoli is pulling out, it says. It had just gotten into western Libya last month.

The attack overnight on a house in Tripoli killed one of Gadhafi's sons, as I mentioned, but also the government said that Gadhafi himself and his wife were at the residence when it was hit. They are unharmed, the government said. We have no way of independently confirming that account, but the government in Tripoli is alleging it was a direct assassination attempt.

RAZ: Now, NATO, of course, is denying that it was targeting Gadhafi.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's right. NATO says it was targeting command and control structures. But, you know, there is a military stalemate here right now, and most observers suspect NATO is trying to increase the pressure on Gadhafi. And if they can kill him, then they will kill him.

It's controversial, obviously, because when the international community got involved initially, it said the aim was not regime change but rather protecting civilians. That's what the U.N. mandate that it was given says.

But things have clearly moved on from there now. And it seems despite the very vociferous denials of both Britain and France today that they were targeting Gadhafi, that might have been exactly what they were doing.

RAZ: And what about in the town of Misrata? That is a predominantly rebel-held city. What is happening there? That's been the scene of some heavy fighting.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, this is a city that's been under siege now for several months, and the rebels have been equipped by the international community, by places like Qatar and, of course, by the rebels here in Benghazi, and they've been putting up fierce resistance.

We understand today that the battle centers around the airport, and there have been heavy casualties, as there have been every single day that this fighting has gone on.

The situation in Misrata is dire. The hospitals are overwhelmed, and people are dying every day.

RAZ: That's NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Thanks so much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're welcome.

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