May 17, 2011 / 1:22 PM / 9 years ago

UK hits Libya bodyguard training base, spy centres

LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - British armed forces attacked a training base used by bodyguards for Muammar Gaddafi’s inner circle in the latest strikes on Libya, the Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday.

Libyan intelligence agency buildings were also attacked in the overnight raids on the Libyan capital Tripoli, using Tornado aircraft and Tomahawk missiles fired from a submarine, HMS Triumph.

One of the intelligence centres hit played a “significant role in the collection of information by Colonel Gaddafi’s secret police” and the other was a headquarters for Libya’s External Security Organisation, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The targets appeared to indicate a broadening of British operations, which until now have concentrated on knocking out Libyan weapons and command and control systems.

Britain’s most senior military officer, General David Richards, said in a newspaper interview last weekend that NATO must broaden its range of bombing targets in Libya or run the risk of Gaddafi staying in power.

The training base that was attacked was used by Gaddafi’s Executive Protection Force, which acts as the bodyguard for Gaddafi’s inner circle government and was entrusted with other “sensitive tasks”, the British ministry said.

Vehicles at the training base had been “identified as having been directly involved in the bloody suppression of public demonstrations in Tripoli on March 4, when live ammunition was used against the legitimate protesters”.

Gaddafi is famous for being protected by dozens of female bodyguards.

The British strikes were carried out in conjunction with strikes by other NATO allies, which have been bombing Libyan targets under a United Nations’ mandate to protect civilians.

NATO forces have hit targets within Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziyah compound several times during the conflict, but deny they are targeting the leader himself.

Gaddafi survived an attack on a house in Tripoli on April 30 that Libyan officials say killed his youngest son and three grandchildren. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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