Is NATO sensing the impending collapse of the Qaddafi regime or of support for the air campaign from a Libya-skeptical Congress? Whatever the cause it appears to have decided to dramatically escalate the air campaign over the capital city of Tripoli. Western reporters counted 27 air strikes today, throwing the city into panic.
"Instead of talking to us, they are bombing us," charged Libyan spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim. "They are going mad. They are losing their heads," said Ibrahim.
Ibrahim told reporters that the daylight strikes were particularly terrifying because families were separated during the day as Libyan schoolchildren are taking end-of-the-year final exams. "Tens of thousands of children are in Tripoli. You can imagine the shock and horror of the children. You can imagine the horror of parents who can't check on their children who are far away," Ibrahim said.
Fides, the Vatican news service, had its own eyewitness reports from Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli: "Already this morning at 5 there was a heavy bombing. The bombings are becoming more aggressive and intense," he said.
"This morning, around 11, I was in the middle of a meeting with about ten journalists when 4-5 bombs exploded at close range. The hotel in downtown Tripoli, where we were, is close to the target of the bombing. We all rushed to see what had happened. I do not know the details, but it is likely they hit the whole complex of Bab-Al Ziziya [Qaddafi's residence], where air strikes appear to be concentrated."
The vicar added that "the meeting with the international press was positive to try to understand what the prospects are. Someone did not hide the concern that something could happen in Tripoli in the coming days." He said, "I do not know what will happen, but anything is possible. However, the situation is not calm. I just hope that something happens on the diplomatic front to offset at least what is happening on the military front."