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Vandals attack 2 embassies in Libya

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Vandals attacked the Italian and British embassies in the Libyan capital yesterday, hours after officials said Moammar Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren.

The unrest prompted the United Nations to pull its international staff out of Tripoli.

Britain responded to the attack on its embassy complex by announcing that it was expelling the Libyan ambassador to London.

NATO's attack on a blast-wall-ringed Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli late Saturday signaled escalating pressure on the Libyan leader, who has tried to crush an armed rebellion that erupted in mid-February.

Libyan officials denounced the strike as an assassination attempt and a violation of international law.

The Libyan government stepped up its shelling on the besieged western city of Misrata, pounding the port area, which has been the rebel-held city's only lifeline. Heavy shelling also occurred elsewhere in the city throughout the day, killing 12 people and raising the two-day death toll to 29.

Misrata, which is the main rebel-held city in the west, has emerged as a key prize as the two sides have been locked in a stalemate with Gadhafi holding sway over the western half of the country and the rebels dominating the east.

NATO warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes in Libya for the past six weeks as part of a UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

The bombing that reportedly killed Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Arab, drew criticism from Russia, which cast doubt on NATO's assertion that the alliance is not targeting the Libyan leader or members of his family.

The 29-year-old had survived a 1986 U.S. airstrike on his father's Bab al-Aziziya residential compound that killed his adopted sister, retaliation for the bombing attack on a German disco in which two U.S. servicemen were killed. The United States at the time blamed Libya for the disco blast.

NATO acknowledged that it had struck a "command and control building," but insisted all its targets are military in nature and linked to Gadhafi's systematic attacks on the population.

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