Marham jets target bunker in Gaddafi’s last stronghold

Tornado jets took off from the Norfolk base last night to launch a missile strike on a large bunker in the Libyan leader's home town of Sirte.

Maj Gen Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff's communications officer, said British action as part of the enforcement of the UNSCR 1973 had included an attack on a headquarters bunker in Gaddafi's home town.

He said: 'Yesterday morning, Royal Air Force Tornado aircraft located and destroyed one of Colonel Gaddafi's few remaining long- range surface-to-air missile systems, near Al Watiyah, close to the Tunisian border.

'During the afternoon, Tornados and Typhoons destroyed a command and control node that remained in former regime hands on the road south from Tripoli to the International Airport.

'Then, at around midnight, a formation of Tornado GR4s, which had launched from RAF Marham in Norfolk on a long-range strike mission, fired a salvo of Storm Shadow precision-guided missiles against a large headquarters bunker in Gaddafi's home town of Sirte.

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'As ever, these missions, and those conducted by allied fast jets over Libya, relied upon Nato's large fleet of combat support aircraft, including RAF VC10 and Tristar tankers, plus Sentry and Sentinel surveillance platforms.'

Defence sources said there was no indication that Col Gaddafi was inside the complex when it was attacked.

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While the Libyan dictator's whereabouts remained unknown this lunchtime, his spokesman insisted he was safe and continuing to lead the fight.

'It's not a question of finding Gaddafi, it's ensuring the regime does not have the capability to continue waging war against its own people,' Defence Secretary Liam Fox said today.

'We have information that there are some elements of the regime in Sirte. Where they are still continuing to wage war on the people of Libya, we will continue to degrade their military capabilities.

'The attack on the military bunker last night by the RAF was part of that.

'The regime needs to recognise that the game is up. It is all over and they need to stop attacking their own people.

'But as long as they do continue to attack the people, Nato will continue to attack as we have done under the UN Resolution 1973 to degrade the command and control and the military assets that they are using against the people of Libya.'

Gaddafi urged supporters to 'fight and kill' the rebels who now control large parts of Libyan capital Tripoli.

In an audio message broadcast on Al-Arabiya television, hesaid: 'Don't leave Tripoli for the rats. Fight them, fight them, and kill them.'

The comments came as opposition forces stepped up their search for the dictator and Foreign Secretary William Hague said his rule was 'finished'.

Mr Hague said: 'There is no way back for the Gaddafi regime and clearly many of its key members are on the run.

'But there remain forces active loyal to the Gaddafi regime, concentrated particularly in the south of Tripoli and around the city of Sirte.'

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