Tripoli/Washington: As allied forces continued to strike missiles at Libya’s defence system, including Muammar Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound, loud explosions and anti-aircraft fire rang across the Libyan capital for the third consecutive night.

The Libyan television reported that a missile hit a spot near Col Gaddafi's sprawling Bab al-Aziza compound at around 1900 GMT, without elaborating.

Similar explosions rocked the capital on Sunday night with coalition officials saying that an administrative command and control centre in Gaddafi's fortified complex had been destroyed by a cruise missile.

As indications appeared that the no-fly zone over Libya is going to be widened to cover almost 1,000 kms, the coalition bombers targeted Gaddafi's stronghold of Zuwarah, Sirte, Sebha as well as the embattled city of Ajdabiya.

"Sky above the Libyan capital lit up with anti-aircraft fire after explosions were heard again on Monday night," a TV correspondent reported from the city.

The state television also said that a Libyan naval base, 10 kms east of the capital, was also hit last night.     

Libyan Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said that southern town of Sebha, bastion of Gaddafi's Guedefa tribe, had also been attacked and these strikes had caused numerous civilian casualties.

Though battered by constant air and missile strikes, the Libyan Government forces continued to engage in scattered fighting, defying the UN resolution which demand an immediate ceasefire by Gaddafi's troops and an end to attack on civilians.

The Arab channel quoted witnesses as saying that Gaddafi's tanks and snipers have shot dead more than 40 people and left 400 wounded in battles on the outskirts of the city.

Taking advantage of a heavy toll taken by coalition bombers on Gaddafi's tanks and armoured vehicles, the ragtag rebels chased the retreating columns of government troops
right into the outskirts of Ajdabiya, but were beaten back by heavily armed forces manning the city defences.

No-fly zone to be extended


Meanwhile, a top US Commander in the region, General Carter Ham, said moves were afoot to widen the no-fly zone in Libya to cover "about 1,000 kms" from Benghazi to Tripoli.

Briefing Pentagon reporters on the situation over satellite from Germany, Ham claimed that three nights of strikes had almost degraded Gaddafi's capabilities to wage a war on his people.

He said that Gaddafi's forces in the vicinity of Benghazi "now possess little will or capability to resume offensive operations."

Western television channels showed footage of a highway running between Benghazi and Ajdabiya littered with burnt out husk of Gaddafi's tanks and armoured personnel carrier hit by air strikes as they scrambled back to Ajdabiya.

General Ham said he had little indication of whereabouts of Gaddafi or his family.

(Agencies)