Image: Damage to the house of Moammar Gadhafi
Hamza Turkia  /  AP
This photo distributed by China's Xinhua news agency shows the damage to the house of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi after a NATO airstrike during a tour organized by the Libyan government in the area of Gargur in Tripoli, Libya, early Sunday, May 1. Gadhafi escaped the NATO missile strike in Tripoli on Saturday, but his youngest son and three grandchildren under the age of 12 were killed, a government spokesman said.
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updated 5/1/2011 5:10:40 PM ET 2011-05-01T21:10:40

Angry mobs attacked Western embassies and U.N. offices in Tripoli Sunday after NATO bombed Moammar Gadhafi's family compound in an attack officials said killed the leader's second-youngest son and three grandchildren. Russia accused the Western alliance of exceeding its U.N. mandate of protecting Libyan civilians with the strike.

The vandalized embassies were empty and nobody was reported injured, but the attacks heightened tensions between the Libyan regime and Western powers, prompting the United Nations to pull its international staff out of the capital.

The bombing did not slow the attacks of Gadhafi's forces on rebel strongholds in the western part of Libya that has remained largely under the control of the regime. The rebel port of Misrata, which has been besieged by Gadhafi's troops for two months, came under heavy shelling Sunday and at least 12 people were killed, a medic said.

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Gadhafi has repeatedly called for a cease-fire, most recently on Saturday, but has not halted his assault on Misrata, a city of 300,000 where hundreds have been killed since the rebellion against Libya's ruler erupted in mid-February.

The rebels, who control most of eastern Libya, have been unable to gain an advantage on the battlefield despite weeks of NATO airstrikes. Alliance officials and allied leaders emphatically denied they were hunting Gadhafi to break the stalemate between the better trained government forces and the lightly armed rebels.

Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, who commands NATO's operation in Libya, said that "we do not target individuals." However, the leaders of the U.S., Britain and France have said Gadhafi must go, prompting warnings by U.N. Security Council members Russia, China and Brazil against NATO attempts to change the regime.

In some of its strongest language, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday accused NATO of a "disproportionate use of force" and cast doubt on NATO's assertion that it is not targeting Gadhafi or members of his family. The ministry called for "an immediate cease-fire and the beginning of a political settlement process without preconditions."

NATO warplanes have shifted their focus in the past two weeks from support for rebels on the front lines to attacking the regime's communications centers. Saturday's strike reduced most of the Gadhafi family compound, which takes up an entire block in the residential Garghour neighborhood, to rubble.

Officials said it killed 29-year-old Seif al-Arab Gadhafi, who had survived a 1986 U.S. airstrike on his father's Bab al-Aziziya residential compound. The 1986 strike, which killed Gadhafi's adopted daughter, was retaliation for the bombing attack on a German disco in which two U.S. servicemen were killed. The U.S. at the time blamed Libya for the disco blast.

Hidden from view by blast walls and tall trees, the complex targeted Saturday contained three one-story buildings and a large yard with lawns, geranium flower beds, a woodshed, a swing and a table soccer game. A dead deer and a twisted bathtub lay on the debris-strewn grass.

A kitchen clock, knocked from the wall, had stopped a 8:08 and 45 seconds, the time of the explosion. Cooking pots with food, including stuffed peppers, noodles and a stew, had been left on the stove, covered with aluminum foil. Thick gray dust covered crates of onions and lemons in the pantry.

In one of the living rooms, a pile of video games, including FIFA 10, were scattered on a sofa. In what looked like a children's bedroom, half an apple and a glass container of Nutella chocolate spread stood on a night stand.

Some chanted pro-Gadhafi slogans. Foreign ambassadors, many from Africa, were given a tour by government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, who told them that Africans must stick together against attempts at foreign meddling.

After news of the air strike spread in Tripoli, an angry mob burned down the British embassy buildings, including the ambassador's residence, the British Foreign Office said. Britain has taken a leading role in supporting the rebels.

Only burned shells remained, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said, adding that the buildings had been "ransacked, vandalised and completely destroyed."

After the attack, a police vehicle was parked outside the British embassy. The fire had damaged a nearby car, an embassy war memorial plaque and the British coat of arms emblem above the embassy entrance.

Story: Libya: Gadhafi survives attack that killed son, grandchildren

Britain responded by ordering the expulsion of the Libyan ambassador, saying he must leave by Monday.

The Italian embassy in Tripoli was also burned, the Italian Foreign Ministry said, accusing the Gadhafi regime of failing to take measures to protect foreign missions. Italy withdrew its diplomats weeks ago and promised the attack on the embassy "will not weaken" its determination to continue with its partners in that mission.

A Libyan anti-Gadhafi activist who toured Tripoli said the U.S. Embassy was also damaged with scorch marks outside the building's windows and a green Libyan flag draped over the roof on one side. The windows in the guard shack at the entrance were smashed, said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The U.S. evacuated its diplomatic staff at the start of the Libyan crisis, leaving Turkey to represent American interests in the country. In Washington, the State Department said it was aware of reported damage to the embassy. "If true, we condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms," the statement said, adding that by failing to protect the diplomatic missions, the regime "has once again breached its international responsibilities and obligations."

Vandals also entered empty U.N. offices in Tripoli and some vehicles were taken, according to Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Bunker said 12 foreign staffers left for neighboring Tunisia because of the unrest.

Rebels celebrated the news of the airstrike that killed Gadhafi's son, although some questioned the veracity of the claim, saying the regime could be trying to discredit the international military campaign.

Libyan state TV broadcast footing apparently shot in a morgue showing what appeared to be two bodies, covered by green Libyan flags, lying on metal gurneys. A flower wreath leaned near a wall. Two smaller shapes were covered by white sheets on separate gurneys.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the top Catholic clergyman in Tripoli, said he was shown the bodies in the hospital Sunday. He said he was told that one was that of Seif al-Arab Gadhafi, but it was so badly disfigured that he could not make a positive identification.

Gadhafi and his wife, Safiya, were in the family compound at the time of the attack but escaped unharmed, said Ibrahim, the government spokesman.

Seif al-Arab was the second-youngest of Gadhafi's seven sons and brother of the better known Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, who had been touted as a reformist before the uprising began. He also has a biological daughter, Aisha.

The younger Gadhafi had spent much of his time studying and partying in the southern German city of Munich in recent years and was not involved in Libyan power structures as were many of his siblings. Even photos of him are scarce. On Sunday, Ibrahim distributed a headshot showing him with a full black beard and wearing a black shirt.

Gadhafi, who has been in power for more than four decades, has fought fiercely to put down an uprising against his regime that began with protests inspired by a wave of Mideast unrest and escalated into an armed rebellion.

Misrata, Libya's third-largest city 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli, has emerged as a key battleground as Gadhafi seeks to consolidate his hold in the west.

On Sunday, the Libyan government unleashed two volleys of rockets on Misrata's port, 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 23.

A first round of rockets hit the port early in the morning, while a Maltese aid ship that arrived the night before was unloading its cargo, said Ahmed al-Misrati, a truck driver who was in the port at the time.

Al-Misrati said the rockets hit the port area and the water near the boat, which pulled out to sea before it could finish unloading the aid.

A second, larger salvo of dozens of rockets struck the port area in the afternoon, causing fires that sent a huge plume of black smoke over the horizon.

One rocket hit a makeshift checkpoint outside the port, killing two people, medics said. Associated Press Television News footage showed smoke from a line of rocket strikes along the port road and a man screaming and holding his injured hand while fleeing from the checkpoint. Two bodies lay in the rubble.

Strikes also hit inside the port, destroying part of its main road and setting fire to shipping containers on the dock full of aid, said Ahmed al-Jamal, 27, who was slightly injured when the port restaurant was hit.

Fighting between rebel fighters and government forces continued in the southwestern neighborhood of al-Gheran.

Some 20 rebel fighters who said they were waiting for NATO airstrikes to advance collected in a house there, eating cookies, giving milk to local cats and leaning their rifles on the wall before lining up for Muslim prayers.

One fighter flipped through photos of his children on his cell phone when a rocket-propelled grenade hit near the house's open door, causing a boom that shook the walls. Shrapnel shattered the windshield and headlights of a parked ambulance, killing two fighters and injuring four others.

_____

Hubbard reported from Misrata, Libya. Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Juergen Baetz in Berlin, Slobodan Lekic in Brussels, Lynn Berry in Moscow and Bouazza ben Bouazza in Tunis, Tunisia, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Gallery: Gadhafi's children

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Video: Dramatic developments in Libyan stalemate

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    >>> the other big story we're following here tonight, fallout from a nato air attack that the libyan government says killed one of moammar gadhafi 's sons and three of his grandchildren. today angry mobs set fire to the british and italian embassies in tripoli which prompted britain to expel libya's ambassador to london. nbc's mike taibbi is in tripoli with more on last night's nato strike.

    >> reporter: there's no doubt there was an air attack . nato confirmed it. reporters here who are tightly controlled were bussed to the scene to record the damage. two of the four structures at the compound destroyed. blood trails on the floor. a government spokesman says moammar gadhafi 's son, saif al arab, was killed. at the time of the air strike on saturday night, gadhafi and his wife were also reportedly in the compound for a family gathering.

    >> he's in good health. he wasn't harmed. his wife also is in good health. she wasn't harmed.

    >> reporter: in rebel controlled benghazi, eastern libya, there were celebrations of the news that the strikes had killed members of gadhafi 's family. there are also doubts expressed that gadhafi 's son was actually killed. nato 's commander said all targets were military in nature. that nato had no independent confirmation of casualties or of the identity of any casualties. in fact, though, the air strike was the third in a week that reportedly came close to taking out gadhafi himself. one attack while he was giving a televised speech about a proposed cease-fire with nato . but even with the bombs falling reportedly so near to where gadhafi was speaking, his offer to negotiate with nato did not include even a hint he might surrender power. instead he said, i am not leaving my country. no one can force me to leave my country. that was hours before the latest attack in the intensifying nato air campaign reportedly came close to forcing regime change another way.

    >> this was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country.

    >> reporter: pro- gadhafi demonstrators believe that and believe, too, that their leader has now seen family members killed while escaping with his own life again. mike taibbi , nbc news, tripoli .

Photos: Moammar Gadhafi

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  1. Col. Moammar Gadhafi is seen in Tripoli on Sept. 27, 1969, after leading a military coup that toppled King Idris. Gadhafi has maintained his rule over Libya for more than four decades since the coup. Gadhafi was killed in Sirte on Oct. 20 as revolutionary forces took the last bastion of his supporters. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Gadhafi, left, and Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, right, arrive in Rabat, Morocco, in December 1969 for the Arab Summit Conference. (Benghabit / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Col. Gadhafi, left, jokes with a group of British hippies in Tripoli in July 1973. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Gadhafi was purportedly a major financier of the Black September movement, a band of Palestinian militants. Its members perpetrated the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. One of the Black September guerrillas who broke into the Olympic Village is seen in this picture. (Keystone via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Gadhafi during the summit of the Organization of African Unity on Aug. 4, 1975, in Kampala, Uganda. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Flowers are laid at the memorial to Yvonne Fletcher, a British police constable who was shot dead by terrorists in April 1984 while on duty during a protest outside the Libyan embassy in London. Fletcher's death led to an 11-day police siege of the embassy and a breakdown of diplomatic relations between Libya and the United Kingdom. (Fox Photos via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Gadhafi and his second wife Safiya wave to the crowd upon their arrival in Dakar, Senegal, for a three-day official visit on Dec. 3, 1985. Gadhafi has eight biological children, six by Safiya. (Joel Robine / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. U.S. Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, fourth from left, and West Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen, fifth from left, inspect the damage following an April 5, 1986, bombing at a Berlin discotheque frequented by American serveicemen. Libya was blamed for the blast, which killed three and injured more than 200. Then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan retaliated by ordering airstrikes against the Libyan capital of Tripoli and city of Benghazi. (Wolfgang Mrotzkowski / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. French policemen and army soldiers unload crates of arms and ammunition seized aboard the Panamian merchant ship Eksund on Nov. 3, 1987 at Brest military port in France. A huge supply of arms and explosives purportedly supplied by Libya and destined for the Irish Republican Army was found aboard the vessel. (Andre Durand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. This Dec. 22, 1988, photo shows the wreckage of the Pan Am airliner that exploded and crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people - most of them Americans. Gadhafi has accepted Libya's responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the victims' families. Libya's ex-justice minister was recently quoted as telling a Swedish newspaper that Gadhafi personally ordered the bombing. (Letkey / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, right, welcomes Gadhafi upon his arrival at Tunis airport on Jan. 10, 1990. (Frederic Neema / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi is escorted by security officers in Tripoli on Feb. 18, 1992. Al-Megrahi was granted a compassionate release from a Scottish prison in August 2009 on the grounds that he was suffering from prostate cancer and would die soon. (Manoocher Deghati / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, accompanies Gadhafi on a tour at the pyramids of Giza on Jan. 19, 1993. (Aladin Abdel Naby / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An Egyptian border policeman counts passports belonging to Palestinians waiting at the post in Salloum for transit to the Gaza Strip on Sept. 12, 1995. Families were stranded at the border with Libya after Gadhafi decided to expel 30.000 Palestinians, reportedly in order to call attention to the political situation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. (Amr Nabil / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Libyan women bodyguards provide security for VIPs during a military parade in Green Square on Sept. 1, 2003, to mark the 34th anniversary of Gadhafi's acension to power. (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Family members of people killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, read documents on Sept. 12, 2003, as the U.N. Security Council votes to lift sanctions against Libya for the 1988 bombing. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, flew to Libya in 2004 to hold talks with Gadhafi inside a Bedouin tent. Here, Blair and and Gadhafi stroll to a separate tent in Tripoli for lunch during a break in their talks. Blair's role was particularly vital in Gadhafi's international rehabilitation. He praised the leader for ending Libya's nuclear and chemical weapons program and stressed the need for new security alliances in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. (Stefan Rousseau / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. U.S. President George W. Bush looks at material and equipment surrendered by Libya, during a tour of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee on July 12, 2004. Bush officially lifted the U.S. trade embargo against Libya on Sept. 20, 2004. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. View of the remains of Gadhafi's bombed-out headquarters, now turned into a living memento, inside his compound in Tripoli on Oct. 15, 2004. The sculpture in the center represents a golden fist grabbing a U.S. jet fighter. U.S. jets bombed Tripoli, killing Gadhafi's adopted 4-year-old daughter, in April 1986 in retaliation for the Berlin discotheque bombing. (John Macdougall / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is welcomed by Gadhafi in Tripoli on July 25, 2007. Sarkozy arrived for a meeting with the Libyan leader a day after the release of six foreign medics from a Libyan prison. (Patrick Kovarik / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Gadhafi's son Saif, center, attends a ceremony in the southern Libyan city of Ghiryan on Aug. 18, 2007, to mark the arrival of water from the Great Manmade River, a project to pipe water from desert wells to coastal communities. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Gadhafi looks at a Russian-language edition of his book "The Green Book" during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 17, 2008, in Tripoli. Putin was in Libya for a two-day visit to rebuild Russian-Libyan relations. (Artyom Korotayev / Epsilon via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Gadhafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pose for a picture after signing an agreement in the eastern city of Benghazi on Libya's Mediterranean coast on Aug. 30, 2008. Berlusconi apologized to Libya for damage inflicted by Italy during the colonial era and signed a $5 billion investment deal by way of compensation. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Gadhafi poses with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prior to a meeting in Tripoli on Sept. 5, 2008. Rice arrived in Libya on the first such visit in more than half a century, marking a new chapter in Washington's reconciliation with the former enemy state. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Gadhafi attends the closing session of the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, on March 30, 2009. (Marwan Naamani / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Gadhafi waves after delivering a speech during a meeting with 700 women from the business, political and cultural spheres on June 12, 2009, in Rome. The Libyan strongman drew cheers and jeers when he criticized Islam's treatment of women but then suggested it should be up to male relatives to decide if a woman can drive. (Christophe Simon / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. U.S .President Barack Obama shakes hands with Gadhafi during the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, on July 9, 2009. (Michael Gottschalk / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, top left, is accompanied by Seif al-Islam el-Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader, upon his arrival at the airport in Tripoli on Aug. 20, 2009. Scotland freed the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds, allowing him to die at home in Libya despite American protests that he should be shown no mercy. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. The president of the U.N. General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, top center, listens in apparent misery as Gadhafi speaks on Sept. 23, 2009, at U.N. headquarters in New York. It was Gadhafi's first appearance before the U.N., and he emptied out much of the chamber with an exhaustive 95-minute speech in which he criticized the decision-making structure of the world body and called for investigations of all the wars and assassinations that have taken place since the U.N.'s founding. (Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Gadhafi greets Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during the plenary session at the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island on Sept. 27, 2009. Chavez and Gadhafi urged African and South American leaders to strive for a new world order countering Western economic dominance. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Gadhafi and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a group picture of Arab and African leaders ahead of the opening of the second Arab-African summit in the coastal town of Sirte, Libya, on Oct. 10, 2010. Ben Ali and Mubarak were driven out of power by popular revolts in 2011. (Sabri Elmehedwi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Gadhafi is followed by members of the press in Tripoli before making a speech hoping to defuse tensions on March 2. Gadhafi blamed al-Qaida for creating turmoil and told applauding supporters there was a conspiracy to control Libya and its oil. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyan rebels step on a picture of Gadhafi at a checkpoint in Tripoli's Qarqarsh district on Aug. 22. Libyan government tanks and snipers put up a scattered, last-ditch effort in Tripoli on Monday after rebels swept into the heart of the capital, cheered on by crowds hailing the end of Gadhafi's 42 years in power. (Bob Strong / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. A man in Tripoli holds a photo said to be of Moammar Gadhafi after the announcement of the former leader's death, Oct. 20, 2011. Gadhafi was killed when revolutionary forces overwhelmed his hometown, Sirte, the last major bastion of resistance two months after the regime fell. (Abdel Magid Al-fergany / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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