NATO Steps Up Strikes in Libya

TRIPOLI, Libya -- A series of NATO airstrikes targeted sites around Tripoli early Monday as increasingly frequent attacks raised pressure on Muammar Qaddafi's beleaguered regime.

The overnight strikes appeared to target sites on Tripoli's outskirts. It wasn't immediately clear what they targeted -- Libyan government officials were not available for comment. They followed pounding explosions that shook Tripoli on Sunday.

A NATO statement said those strikes hit missile storage areas and launchers, command and control facilities and a radar system.

NATO military craft appear to be increasing the frequency of their strikes around the Libyan capital -- the stronghold of Qaddafi's four-decade-old regime. That has added more pressure on a regime that is already shaken by a four-month-old rebel insurgency, as well as several defections and a naval blockade.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he would use a meeting Wednesday with the alliance's defense ministers to demand that more countries contribute to the fight against Qaddafi. He did not mention specific nations. Britain and France have been heavily involved since the mission started in March.

Also Monday, two rebels were killed in fighting with Qaddafi's forces in the eastern oil town of Brega, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi, a medic said.

Qaddafi forces fired mortars at a graveyard in the town of Ajdabiya, a frontline town in the rebel-held east.

After the strike, rebel fighters pursued government forces west to Brega, where two rebels were killed and one was injured by government shelling, the medic said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

It was unclear if any government soldiers were killed because Libyan authorities don't provide casualty information.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch issued a report that accused Libyan opposition authorities of arbitrarily detaining dozens of people suspected of collaborating with Qaddafi. The organization called on rebel authorities to give the detainees full due process rights or release them.

The group said one detainee was apparently tortured to death in custody. It based its report on visits with rebel-held detainees in three opposition-controlled cities.

"There is no excuse to delay the rule of law in areas under opposition control," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa director.


Hadeel al-Shalchi contributed reporting from Benghazi, Libya.