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TRIPOLI — Low-flying NATO military craft unleashed a ferocious series of nearly 30 daytime airstrikes on Tripoli, rattling the Libyan capital Tuesday and sending plumes of smoke billowing above leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound.

Reporters counted at least 27 strikes by midafternoon, and Libyan television said several structures in the Gadhafi compound were badly damaged.

Daylight NATO raids have been rare and signal an intensification of the alliance bid to drive Col. Gadhafi from power.

There were no immediate reports about casualties.

NATO officials have warned for days that they were increasing the scope and intensity of their two-month campaign to oust Col. Gadhafi after more than 40 years in power. The alliance is assisting a four-month-old rebel insurgency that has seized swaths of eastern Libya and pockets in the regime’s stronghold in the west.


Ahmadinejad criticizes atomic energy chief

TEHRAN — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency chief has discredited the world body by claiming that Iran may be working on a nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Ahmadinejad was reacting Tuesday to comments by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Yukiya Amano alleging that some aspects of Iran’s nuclear activities could be linked to a weapons program.

Mr. Amano also chastised Iran on Monday for not cooperating with the IAEA.

Mr. Amano said that his agency received new information indicating a “possible military dimension” related to Iran’s nuclear program but refused to say how the IAEA had acquired the information.

The U.S. and some allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.


Palestinian mosque set ablaze

RAMALLAH — Arsonists torched a West Bank mosque early Tuesday and scrawled Hebrew graffiti on one of its walls.

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