Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi (left) meeting tribal leaders on Wednesday
Early Thursday morning NATO once again conducted a barrage of airstrikes on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, with Libyan government officials said targeted the Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi’s compound in the Bab al-Azziziyah area. The strikes also shook the windows of a hotel where journalists are staying in the capital.
There have been unconfirmed reports of casualties, including somebody close to the Al Qathafi family. However, this could not be verified, not even by personnel at the nearby Khadra Hospital, where medics were witnessed wheeling in two men they said were killed in the shelling.
As plumes of white smoke resulting from the blasts filled the skies above the compound and large parts of the capital, emergency vehicle sirens wailed and sporadic gunfire rang out.
Five airstrikes were heard in Tripoli between 5:00 and 6:00 am local time as planes continuously flew overhead. Four more air attacks were heard an hour later in a ten-minute span.
The latest strikes came after Libyan state TV Wednesday night showed footage of Muammar Al Qathafi meeting with tribal leaders at the same hotel that is currently being used to accommodate the international journalists in Tripoli.
The first video of the Libyan leader aired in nearly two weeks appeared to kill speculations created by most foreign journalists about his well-being. There had been plenty of rumours that he might have been been injured, or worse, in the NATO attack.
It was his first appearance on Libyan state television since the April 30 airstrikes that killed his son Seif al-Arab and three grandchildren, and the regime termed "an attempt on his life".
The TV station showed footage of an unharmed Al Qathafi meeting and talking to what were said to have been tribal leaders who were apparently expressing their grief and giving their condolences to the leader’s family that has lost four members of the family in a NATO airstrike.
State TV said the meeting took place Wednesday, and to prove the authenticity of the footage, the cameraman zoomed in on a screen in the background bearing the Wednesday May 11 date.
A Libyan official told journalists the video was shot around 19.30 local time, Wednesday. Al Qathafi was wearing sunglasses and dressed in a black robe and hat with a brown sash, greeting the leaders and then holding talks with them seated in a half circle around him.
Sitting in an armchair near a small round table, and pointing pointed to his visitors, while calling some of them by name, Muammar Al Qathafi said: "We tell the world: 'Those are the representatives of the Libyan tribes.'"
One of the visitors, and elderly man assured him: "You will be victorious."