Pressure mounts on Gadhafi

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Pressure is mounting on Moammar Gadhafi from within his stronghold in the Libyan capital, with increasing NATO airstrikes and worsening shortages of fuel and goods. Residents said Thursday there has also been a wave of anti-government protests in several Tripoli neighborhoods this week — dissent that in the past has been met with zero tolerance and brutal force.

Gadhafi’s rebel opposition, meanwhile, received major political boosts from abroad. Britain promised to provide them with police gear, and the Obama administration invited a rebel delegation to the White House for talks on Friday.

Those announcements followed a new round of NATO airstrikes early Thursday that hit Gadhafi’s fortified compound in Tripoli. Just hours beforehand, the Libyan leader had appeared on state TV for the first time since his son was killed nearly two weeks ago. Before his appearance, rumors swirled that he had been killed or injured.

Reporters were shown the airstrike damage by Libyan officials, including one who said Gadhafi and his family had moved away from the Bab al-Aziziya compound some time ago. One missile appeared to have targeted some sort of underground bunker at the compound — a sprawling complex of buildings surrounded by towering concrete blast walls.

When residents of Tripoli tried to protest against Gadhafi earlier in the uprising, gunmen in speeding cars tore through and fired wildly into the crowds, making many fearful to go out in the streets and demonstrate.

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