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NATO Steps Up Bombing Campaign In Tripoli

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

In the Libyan capital of Tripoli a series of NATO airstrikes echoed through the city yesterday. The Libyan government claimed there were civilian casualties but offered no proof. In fact, an official tour of the bombing sites for journalists did not go as the government planned.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has this report.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: After getting lost in the city, we finally arrived at Tripoli's university. The library windows had been blown out in one of the blasts, leaving shards everywhere. Sami Reghaei was in the building when it happened.

Mr. SAMI REGHAEI: It was a loud explosion. It was like earthquake. I swear to God, it was like an earthquake. And it blown all the glasses on us.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Other than the windows, though, the damage was pretty minimal. The government minders told reporters that the civilian university was the target of the bombing raid. But it didn't take long for some of us to discover what had really been hit.

(Soundbite of door squeaking)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Two of us were taken to the nearby roof of another building. One man pointed to a position close to the university, where we could see smoke rising from a cluster of trees.

We've just been shown that there is a military base just over the hill, and we can see some damaged artillery in the distance.

But as soon the first man showed us the clearly visible anti aircraft gun and radar equipment that's been damaged, the other man who is with us jumps in to censor him and tells us...

Unidentified Man #1: (Through translator) It's a park. He's saying it's a park.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ok.

Unidentified Man #1: (Through translator) A residential neighborhood with parks.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Other reporters though had also been able to film the military site right next to the university walls. And clearly the minders weren't happy about that either.

Unidentified Man #2: Sir, if you brought us to this place why do you want (unintelligible)?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's the BBC reporter trying to get his confiscated memory card back. And CNN also had a camera and a phone taken away after they filmed the bombed military installation.

Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The trip ended as all these trips do with paid supporters of the regime. We recognized a few of them from previous so called spontaneous demonstrations - shouting their support of Moammar Gadhafi.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Tripoli. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.