Tag Archive: Britain


Daniel Radcliffe film sets new horror record

Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman In Blackhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/9110695/Daniel-Radcliffe-film-sets-new-horror-record.html

 

Advertisements

For Amanda Knox, freedom comes at hefty cost

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/10/05/earlyshow/main20115856.shtml

(CBS/AP)

Amanda Knox left Seattle as an anonymous junior attending Washington’s
flagship public university, and on Tuesday she returned as someone whose release
from an Italian jail made her internationally recognizable.

 

But her freedom came with a price, CBS News correspondent Hattie Kauffman
reports.

 

The 24-year-old’s life turned around dramatically Monday when an Italian
appeals court threw out her conviction in the sexual assault and fatal stabbing
of her British roommate. On Tuesday, photos of Amanda Knox crying in the
courtroom after the verdict was read appeared on the front pages of newspapers
in Italy, the U.S., Britain and around the world.

 

 

Special Section:
The Appeal Trial of Amanda Knox

Amanda
Knox: I’m overwhelmed right now

Amanda
Knox’s alleged accomplice wants retrial

 

 

Knox’s first challenge will be repaying the more than $1 million in legal
debts her family piled up in the past two years.

Her parents each took out second mortgages and drained retirement accounts to
pay for her lawyers. Elizabeth Huff, Knox’s grandmother, took out a $250,000
loan to help pay bills, a burden she welcomed.

 

“We are happy; we are elated,” Huff said. “I can’t tell you how happy we
are.”

 

With the international media frenzy that surrounded Knox’s trial continuing
on the journey home — from her flight out of Rome to her landing in Seattle —
there’s no sign the interest in Knox or her story will let up soon. That could
open up an avenue for the family to pay off those debts.

Sources close to Knox tell CBS News that she began to write a memoir while in
prison. That could be worth millions to publishers eager to profit on one of the
most sensational international legal cases in memory.

On CBS’ “The Early Show” Wednesday, Knox’s U.S. attorney, Theodore Simon, said
her writings weren’t discussed during her reunion with family and friends
Tuesday night.

 

 

 

(Watch at left)

 

 

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more to come, but I can tell you very
candidly none of those things were discussed last night in any way,” Simon told
“Early Show” co-anchor Erica Hill. “In fact, Amanda is much more about asking
people how they are as opposed to explaining herself, and it was only after much
time and some curiosity where others started asking some questions about her
prison experience, and when everyone hears about all of those I think they are
really going to be really amazed.”

 

As for Knox’s future, her father, Curt Knox, said she would like to return to
the University of Washington at some point to finish her degree.

 

For now, he’s apprehensive about what four years in prison may have done to
his daughter, though there are no immediate plans for her to get counseling.
“What’s the trauma … and when will it show up, if it even shows up?” he told
The Associated Press. “She’s a very strong girl, but it’s been a tough time for
her.”

For now, Knox has just one priority.

 

“My family’s the most important thing to me right now, and I just want to go
be with them,” Knox told reporters Tuesday night. “Thank you for being there for
me.”

 

British student Meredith Kercher's family members, (from L-R) mother Arline, sister Stephanie and brother Lyle attend a news conference in Perugia October 3, 2011. The family of murdered British student Kercher still finds it difficult to forgive her murder, her brother and sister said on Monday, just hours before an expected verdict in an appeal by U.S. student Amanda Knox.  REUTERS/Giorgio Benvenuti (ITALY - Tags: CRIME LAW)http://news.yahoo.com/meredith-kerchers-family-not-ready-forgive-210939790.html

The family of Meredith Kercher said today they still believe Amanda Knoxtook part in her murder and are in no mood to think about forgiveness.

Kercher’s family spoke as the six jurors and two judges were deliberating whether to uphold or throw out the 2009 murder conviction of Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

CLICK HERE to watch the full story on “20/20” and, for more on Amanda Knox, CLICK HERE.

The Kerchers have stayed away from the nearly year-long trial in Perugia, Italy, until today when they arrived to witness the appeals verdict.

Meredith Kercher’s mother Arline was joined by her sister Stephanie and her brother Lyle. When asked if they believe in the original guilty verdict, Stephanie Kercher said, “We were satisfied with the verdict… Nothing’s changed.”

The family spoke with dignity, but made it clear they are intent on justice for the family member the remember as “Mez.” Lyle Kercher said their hurt has not been eased since the November 2007 murder.

“It’s very difficult to talk about forgiveness at this time, with the [media] hype around the case. And the defendant is involved in that. The brutality of it has been forgotten,” said Kercher’s brother, Lyle. “There comes a point when we are just battling against what’s essentially a PR machine.”

Family of Meredith Kercher Not Willing to Forgive

Referring to the gruesome autopsy photos that were shown during the trial and appeal, the brother said, “If we had them all up here,” he said pointing to the wall behind him, “you would find it hard to forgive someone who had done that to your loved one.”

“I’m not sure we’ll be looking for forgiveness for a while,” he said.

The Kercher family, who traveled from their home in Britain, are wary about the current attention on Knox instead of Meredith Kercher.

“It’s been four years now, and the focus has shifted for obvious reasons onto the proceedings at court at the moment, but Meredith has been forgotten in all of it,” said Stephanie Kercher.

If the appeal is overturned, Knox and Sollecito will be freed from prison. If the conviction is upheld, Knox may have to serve out her 26 year prison sentence and Sollecito will have to complete his 25 year term. Those sentences could be reduced or increased to life, which is what the prosecution is seeking.

Kercher, a student at the University of Leeds, was studying abroad in Perugia for a year when she was killed. She had been sharing an apartment with Knox, an American student studying abroad, and two Italian women. She was found partially nude and with her throat slit in her bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007.

A third person, Rudy Guede, 22, was also convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in her murder.

“Her death was uDuring her final statement to the court in pleading for her freedom today, Knox said Kercher was her friend, someone she “shared my life with.. She cared for me.”

Kercher’s mother downplayed their friendship.

“I don’t think they were that close… Amanda only got there in the beginning of October and Meredith was murdered on the first of November,” Arline Kercher said. “I think they were friendly, but not that close.”

The family remembered Meredith Kercher. “Mez was just a lovely girl … she was always there for everyone,” Stephanie Kercher said.

Arline Kercher cited a line in a story she read about the murder saying, “I think it happened to Meredith because she was all that they weren’t.”

CLICK HERE to watch the full story on “20/20” and, for more on Amanda Knox, CLICK HERE.

nreal in many ways,” said Arline Kercher, Meredith’s mother, “and still is. I still look for her.”

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2028178/Daniel-Radcliffe-love-Rosie-Coker-Harry-Potter-star-Rosanne-marry.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is
reportedly ready to ask his secret girlfriend to marry him.

The Woman In Black star, who has been dating
production assistant Rosanne Coker in secret for the past year after meeting on
the set of ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’ in 2007, is allegedly trying
to conjure up the courage to propose to her.

Rosanne, 22, and Daniel are said to have a lot
of fun together and have already met each others prospective
in-laws.

Muggles in love: Daniel Radcliffe and his girlfriend Rosanne Coker spend some quality time in New York earlier this week

Rosanne’s father Malcolm – who runs his own
painting business – said he was thrilled with the romance because Daniel is a
‘lovely’ guy.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘I don’t want to say
too much really as they would really prefer to keep things
quiet.

‘But Rosanne has worked on the last three
‘Harry Potter’ films, so she and Daniel have known each other quite a long time.

‘But they have been going out for just over a
year now. I have met Daniel and he is a lovely guy.

‘I’m just really happy for Rosanne and as long
as she is happy that is all that matters to me.’

According to the Sun, film chiefs worried
about 22-year-old Daniel’s image as a clean-cut school boy wizard and forced him
to keep his relationship quiet until the final Harry Potter film was
done.

Daniel has previously dated Irish actress
Laura O’Toole and was recently linked to Olive
Uniacke.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2028178/Daniel-Radcliffe-love-Rosie-Coker-Harry-Potter-star-Rosanne-marry.html#ixzz1Va4Oykkr

daniel-radcliffe-girlfriend.jpghttp://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/2011/08/meet-roseanne-coker-daniel-radcliffes-new-painter-girlfriend.html

It takes a very special kind of girl to catch the eye of Harry Potter. Just ask Ginny Weasley.

Daniel Radcliffe surprised fans recently when he mentioned his girlfriend, who he says he is “very much in love with” — but he kept her identity a secret, until now. Daily Mail reveals that DanRad’s lady is Roseanne Coker, a painter who worked as a production assistant on “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in 2007.

The 22-year-old is a painter who continued to work on the “Harry Potter” films with Radcliffe, and was involved behind the scenes in his upcoming movie “The Woman in Black.” Coker lives with her parents in Surrey, England, but splits her time between their home and Radcliffe’s apartment in New York, where he is still performing in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

They’ve been together for at least a year.

 

 

Daniel Radcliffe, Girlfriendhttp://www.eonline.com/news/five_things_weve_learned_about_daniel/259055

After photos of Daniel Radcliffe and his new lady in strolling the streets in New York  City hit the Internet, all we wanted to know was who is she?!

And now we have some answers!

So if you’re dying to know who this pretty brunette (who can pull off wearing  leggings with flip-flops quite well) in lavender is…here you go:

MORE: Daniel Radcliffe Debuts Mystery Girlfriend in  NYC

1. She Has a Name: We can finally identify the 22-year-old  by something other than her hair color or wardrobe. She is Rosanne  Coker, but friends call her Rose.

2. Potter Love: It would be weird if Radcliffe  dated a girl that wasn’t into Harry Potter (well, we think it would  be), but that isn’t an issue here. The duo met on the set of Harry Potter  and the Half-Blood Prince in 2007 when Coker worked as a production’s  assistant. And that was just the beginning. Radcliffe and Coker also worked on  the last two H.P. films together and his latest project, The Woman in Black.

3. Creative Genes: Rose’s father is the owner of a painting  and decorating business, while her mother designs birthday cards. And the apple  doesn’t fall from the tree, because Miss Coker is a painter herself!

4. Travel Bug: Since the beginning of their relationship a  year ago, the actor’s love interest has been splitting her time between his NYC  apartment and her family’s close-to $660,000 home in Surrey, England.

5. Daddy Approves: Danny boy has already met the family, but  don’t rush off thinking there’s a wedding in store. However, if there was, he’d  get Mr. Coker’s blessing. “I have met Daniel and he is a lovely guy. I’m just  really happy for Rosanne and as long as she is happy that is all that matters to  me,” he tells the Daily Mail. “No other parent would ask any more. I  know it’s not a normal life they live. But they have a lot of fun together and  at their age, what more could you ask? Who knows where it is going to lead?”

Read more: http://www.eonline.com/news/five_things_weve_learned_about_daniel/259055#ixzz1VVhw4b3f

NATO airstrike hits near Gadhafi complex

In this image taken from TV, showing rebel forces on the front line as they repel government troops, Sunday June 12, 2011, in Dafniya, Libya. as fighthttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110614/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

By ADAM SCHRECK and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press        Adam Schreck And Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press–    16 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – A NATO airstrike hit an area near Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in the capital again Tuesday, as military leaders voiced concerns about sustaining the operations if the alliance mission drags on.

A column of gray smoke could be seen rising from the area around Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound shortly before dawn Tuesday. The concussion from the blast was felt at a hotel where journalists stay in the capital.

It was not clear what was targeted, and Libyan officials didn’t immediately comment.

East of the capital, alliance aircraft have begun dropping leaflets warning government troops to abandon their posts outside Zlitan, which lies just west of the rebel-held port city of Misrata.

Rebel forces have been advancing along the Mediterranean coast toward Zlitan, but say they have been instructed by NATO to withdraw ahead of expected bombing runs to old front lines in Dafniya.

The 3-by-5 inch leaflets intended for forces loyal to Gadhafi carry the NATO symbol and a picture of an Apache attack helicopter and burning tanks on one side. Green Arabic writing warns: “There’s no place to hide. It’s not too late to stop fighting. If you continue to threaten civilians, you will face destruction.” The message on the reverse urges soldiers to “stop and stay away from fighting now.”

An Associated Press reporter near the front line said NATO fighter jets were be heard overhead.

If the rebels take Zlitan, they would be within 85 miles (135 kilometers) of the eastern outskirts of Tripoli. A rebel official said opposition leaders in Zlitan have been meeting with their counterparts in Misrata, but he acknowledged they face challenges in advancing on the city.

“We need the people of Zlitan to push more courageously forward. They are dependent on our movements, but the problem is only a third of that city is with the rebels,” said Ibrahim Beatelmal, a rebel military spokesman in Misrata.

NATO’s nearly three-month air campaign has grounded Gadhafi’s air forces and weakened his military capabilities. But there are signs the pace of operations has put a strain on the trans-Atlantic alliance.

In London, the head of the Royal Navy warned that the British fleet — a key contributor to the Libya mission — will be unable to maintain the pace of operations if the mission drags on until the end of the year.

Adm. Mark Stanhope told reporters Monday he was comfortable with NATO’s decision to extend the Libya operation to the end of September, but said that beyond that the government would need to make “challenging decisions.”

“If we do it longer than six months we will have to reprioritize forces,” he said.

Elsewhere, a senior NATO official said coalition resources would become “critical” if intervention in Libya continues.

“If additional resources are needed, this of course will need a political decision,” said the official, Gen. Stephane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week publicly rebuked the United States’ European allies and said NATO’s operations in Libya have exposed the alliance’s shortcomings. France and Britain have carried most of the load since NATO began the Libya mission March 31.

In western Libya, Gadhafi’s troops were bombarding opposition forces controlling a key border crossing with Tunisia, according to Omar Hussein, a spokesman for rebels in the western Nafusa mountains.

He said government forces were targeting rebels holding the road that leads toward the Dehiba border crossing. Dehiba is a key supply point for the rebels who wrested control of a string of Nafusa mountain towns from Gadhafi’s forces earlier this month.

NATO, meanwhile, reported it had carried out 62 airstrikes on Libya Monday, hitting military targets in Tripoli and four other cities in Gadhafi controlled territory. The alliance has considerably stepped up the pace of air attacks over tjhe past several days.

___

Al-Shalchi reported from Misrata. Maggie Michael in Cairo and Danica Kirka in London contributed reporting.

 

Libyan rebels claim breakout from Misrata

In this image taken from TV, showing rebel forces on the front line as they repel government troops, Sunday June 12, 2011, in Dafniya, Libya. as fighthttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110613/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press        Hadeel Al-shalchi And Maggie Michael, Associated Press–    53 mins ago

MISRATA, Libya – Government artillery rained down on rebel forces Monday but failed to stop their advance into key ground west of their stronghold at Libya’s major port. As fighting raged for a fourth day, Germany’s foreign minister paid a surprise visit to the rebel’s de facto capital.

Guido Westerwelle met with officials of the Transitional National Council, telling members of the nascent rebel government that Germany recognized the council as “the legitimate representative of the Libyan people”

That position is similar to that of the United States, which has stopped short of outright diplomatic recognition of the council. The move was, nevertheless, another big diplomatic boost for the rebels and their four-month uprising to end Moammar Gadhafi’s 40-year rule in the oil-rich North African country. Germany refused to participate in the NATO air mission over Libya and withheld support for the no-fly zone.

The rebels control roughly the eastern one-third of Libya as well as Misrata, the country’s major port. The also claim to have taken parts of coastal oil center of Zawiya in the far west. That port city is 18 miles (30 kilometers) west of Tripoli and a prize that would put them in striking distance of the capital. Control of the city also would cut one of Moammar Gadhafi’s last supply routes from Tunisia.

Despite rebel claims, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said late Sunday that Gadhafi forces had driven off the attackers, and reporters taken to Zawiya saw secure streets and the green national flag flying over a central square. The insurgents, for their part, claimed a high-ranking Gadhafi commander was badly wounded in the fighting.

“The wishful reporting of some journalists that the rebels are gaining more power and more control of some areas is not correct,” he said.

In the major fighting near Misrata on Monday, an Associated Press photographer at the rebel front lines said they had pushed along the Mediterranean Sea to within 6 miles (10 kilometers) of Zlitan, the next city to the west of Misrata. A rebel commander said his forces, using arms seized from government weapons depots and fresh armaments being shipped in from Benghazi, planned to have moved into Zlitan, by Tuesday.

Ali Terbelo, the rebel commander, said other opposition forces already were in Zlitan, trying to encircle Gadhafi troops. If the rebels take the city they would be within 85 miles (135 kilometers) of the eastern outskirts of Gadhafi’s capital, Tripoli.

An AP reporter with rebel forces said shelling was intense Monday morning with rockets and artillery and mortar shells slamming into rebel lines west of Dafniya at a rate of about 7 each minute. Dafniya is about 20 miles (30 kilometers) west of Misrata

Officials at Hikma Hospital in Misrata said government shelling killed seven and wounded 49 on Sunday. New casualty figures were not available but ambulances were rushing from the Dafniya line back into Misrata.

The rebel thrust at Zawiya and movements farther east — near Misrata and Brega — suggested the stalemated uprising had been reinvigorated, and that Gadhafi’s defenders may become stretched thin.

“Over the past three days, we set fire under the feet of Gadhafi forces everywhere,” Col. Hamid al-Hasi, a rebel battalion commander, told AP. He said the rebels attacked “in very good coordination with NATO” to avoid friendly-fire incidents. “We don’t move unless we have very clear instructions from NATO.”

Rebels encountered a major setback, however, near the eastern oil town of Brega on Monday. Suleiman Rafathi, a doctor at the hospital in the town of Ajdabiya where the casualties were taken, said 23 rebels were killed and 26 wounded in a government ambush about 22 miles (35 kilometers) east of Brega.

The front lines between Brega and Ajdabiya have been relatively quiet in recent weeks, while fighting has raged in western Libya.

Rebel fighters appear to be rebounding with help from the NATO blockade of ports still under government control and alliance control of Libyan airspace. Both have severely crimped the North African dictator’s ability to resupply his forces. And his control has been hard hit by defections from his military and government inner circle.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke again against the Libyan regime, telling the nations of Africa on Monday to sever links Gadhafi despite his long support and patronage for many African leaders.

In a speech on Monday to diplomats at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Clinton said Africa should join most of the rest of the world in abandoning Gadhafi. She said the Libyan leader has lost all legitimacy to rule because of attacks on his own citizens.

She’s urged all African leaders to demand that Gadhafi accept a ceasefire and then leave Libya. She also said they should expel pro-Gadhafi Libyan diplomats from their countries, suspend the operations of Libyan embassies and work with the Libyan opposition.

The rebel council also won recognition from the United Arab Emirates, adding a wealthy, influential Arab state to the handful of nations thus far accepting the insurgents as Libyans’ sole legitimate representatives.

In a lighter moment, the Libyan leader was shown playing chess with the visiting Russian head of the World Chess Federation. The federation is headed by the eccentric Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who until last year was the leader of Russia’s predominantly Buddhist republic of Kalmykia. He once claimed to have visited an alien spaceship.

Libyan state television showed Gadhafi, dressed all in black and wearing dark sunglasses, playing chess Sunday evening with his Russian guest.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Ilyumzhinov as saying Gadhafi told him he has no intention of leaving Libya despite international pressure.

It was unclear where the chess game took place. Gadhafi’s compound in the center of Tripoli has been under NATO bombardment and was hit again Sunday.

Gadhafi had not been seen in public since mid-May, and Ilyumzhinov told him how pleased he was to find him healthy and well.

 

Egypt’s Mubarak to be tried over protester deaths

Hosni Mubarakhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110524/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt

By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press 34 mins ago

CAIRO – Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak will stand trial on charges of conspiring in the deadly shootings of protesters during the uprising that ousted him, the prosecutor-general said Tuesday, a major step in a country still rattled by protests and demands for justice.

The 83-year-old leader and his two sons also were charged with abusing power to amass wealth, enriching associates and accepting bribes, the prosecutor-general’s office said in a statement.

A date has not been set for the trial in criminal court. The prosecutor general spokesman Adel el-Said told The Associated Press the charges against Mubarak for his alleged role in the killing of protesters by security forces could carry the death penalty.

“The sons and the businessman have nothing to do with the charges of the killing of protesters,” he said. “Mubarak and some police chiefs are charged with that.”

Putting Mubarak on trial is a key demand of many Egyptians who have rallied to demand the ousted leader and his aides face justice. A close associate of Mubarak, Hussein Salem, also was charged. He is at large.

Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11 and transferred power to the military after an 18-day popular uprising. At least 846 protesters were killed, according to a government fact-finding mission.

Mubarak has been in custody in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since last month. His two sons are in detention in a Cairo prison.

The Mubaraks and other members of the former regime have been the subject of legal efforts to bring them to trial since the ex-president was forced to resign on Feb. 11. Egypt’s former security chief and four of his top aides are already on trial in the shooting of protesters.

Earlier this month, Tunisia’s toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was charged along with his wife of inciting violence in the bloody crackdown on the popular uprising there. Ben Ali has fled to Saudi Arabia.

But after the initial euphoria in Egypt of a successful uprising, protesters have become impatient and stepped up demands that reforms and promises be carried out.

Mubarak’s prosecution has been complicated by his health condition. He has been interrogated in the hospital, but an order by the prosecutor to transfer him to prison during the investigation was overturned on grounds the prison health facilities were not ready to receive him. He was never moved to a military hospital as suggested by the prosecutor.

Protesters took to the streets several times demanding a speedy trial for Mubarak and his sons.

The calls were aggravated two weeks ago by reports suggesting the military rulers might grant Mubarak amnesty. The reports sparked a wave of criticism and calls for mass rallies to demand justice. The anger prompted a quick denial from the military rulers.

The statement from prosecutor-general Mahmoud Abdel-Meguid on Tuesday accused Mubarak of having “conspired” with the former security chief and other officers to shoot and kill protesters who took to the streets starting Jan. 25. The decision comes ahead of a planned Friday protest dubbed “Egypt’s second revolution,” to demand Mubarak be put on trial and that all remnants of his regime be uprooted, including the hated emergency laws that remain on the books more than three months after his ouster.

Activist Hossam Hamalawi said the Friday protests will go ahead because there are other unmet demands besides trial for Mubarak. “It has to be a public trial, aired minute by minute,” he said. “It is not a legal process as much as it is a political one.”

Abdel-Meguid also charged Mubarak and his sons, Gamal and Alaa, with using their authority and power to enrich himself and business associate Salem.

Prosecution spokesman Adel al-Said said Mubarak’s sons are still being interrogated on other accusations.

The prosecutor had earlier ordered the freezing of the assets of Mubarak and his family. His 70-year- old wife Suzanne was released after she relinquished assets and property valued at $4 million. The move aimed to settle corruption allegations against her, but it was unclear whether she would still face trial.

Follow Yahoo! News on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110524/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

Sky over Tripoli, Libya, is illuminated by explosions during an airstrike, early Tuesday, May 24, 2011. NATO warplanes were repeatedly hitting Tripoli

By DIAA HADID and MICHELLE FAUL, Asssociated Press Diaa Hadid And Michelle Faul, Asssociated Press 1 hr 7 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – NATO launched its most intense bombardment yet against Moammar Gadhafi’s stronghold of Tripoli Tuesday, while a senior U.S. diplomat said President Barack Obama has invited the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council to open an office in Washington but stopped short of formal recognition.

The international community has stepped up airstrikes and diplomatic efforts against the regime in a bid to break a virtual stalemate, with the rebels in the east and Gadhafi maintaining his hold on most of the west.

The NATO airstrikes struck in rapid succession within a half-hour time span, setting off more than 20 explosions and sending up plumes of acrid-smelling smoke from an area around Gadhafi’s sprawling Bab al-Aziziya compound in central Tripoli.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said at least three people were killed and dozens wounded in NATO strikes that targeted what he described as buildings used by volunteer units of the Libyan army.

NATO said in a statement that a number of precision-guided weapons hit a vehicle storage facility adjacent to Bab al-Aziziya that has been used to supply regime forces “conducting attacks on civilians.” It was not immediately clear if the facility was the only target hit in the barrage. Bab al-Aziziya, which includes a number of military facilities, has been pounded repeatedly by NATO strikes.

At the Tripoli Central Hospital, the bodies of three men in their twenties lay on stretchers, their clothing ripped and their faces partially blown away. A nurse, Ahmad Shara, told foreign reporters taken on a government-escorted visit to the facility soon after the strikes that the men were standing outside their homes when they were killed, presumably by shrapnel.

One man who identified himself as a relative pounded a wall and cried out in despair after seeing the bodies. Some 10 other men and women were wounded.

“We thought it was the day of judgment,” said Fathallah Salem, a 45-year-old contractor who rushed his 75-year-old mother to the hospital after she suffered shock. He said his home trembled, his mother fainted and the youngest of seven children screamed in terror at the sound of the rolling blasts.

“You were in the hotel and you were terrified by the shaking — imagine what it was like for the people who live in slums!” Salem told the reporters.

“Honestly, we used to have problems (with the regime),” he said in Arabic. “But today we are all Moammar Gadhafi.”

The U.S. launched the international air campaign on March 19 after the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution to protect civilians after Gadhafi sent his forces to crush the public uprising against his rule. NATO, which has taken over the airstrikes, says it has been doing its best to minimize the risk of collateral damage.

The alliance has been escalating and widening the scope of its strikes over the past weeks, increasing the pressure on Gadhafi, while many countries have built closer ties with the rebel movement that has control of the eastern half of Libya.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh announced Tuesday that his country has recognized the rebels’ National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and would soon name a permanent envoy in Benghazi.

Several other countries, including France and Italy, have recognized the rebel administration, while the United States, European Union and others have established a diplomatic presence in Benghazi.

Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said he had delivered an invitation on Obama’s behalf to the rebels to establish a representative office in Washington — a move he called “an important milestone in our relationship with the National Transitional Council.”

But while he said the United States considers the council a “legitimate and representative and credible” body, he stopped short of formal recognition due to what he called the temporary nature of the council. Council members stress that they will represent Libyans only in the period until Gadhafi can be defeated and democratic elections held.

“We are not talking to Gadhafi and his people. They are not talking to us. They have lost legitimacy,” Feltman told reporters during a visit to the de-facto rebel capital of Benghazi.

Feltman also said he expects Congress to vote soon to allow frozen regime assets in the U.S. to be used for purely humanitarian aid in Libya.

Rebel leaders welcomed the diplomatic contact, but said only better weapons will help them defeat Gadhafi.

“It is just not enough to recognize (us) and visit the liberated areas,” spokesman Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga told The Associated Press. “We have tried very hard to explain to them that we need the arms, we need funding, to be able to bring this to a successful conclusion at the earliest possible time and with the fewest humanitarian costs possible.”

Rebels now control the populated coastal strip in the country’s east and the western port city of Misrata, which Gadhafi’s forces have besieged for months. They also control pockets in Libya’s western Nafusa mountain range.

In what would be a significant new deployment of firepower, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said Monday that France and Britain will bring in attack helicopters for use in the airstrikes. However, Britain said Tuesday that it has not made any such decision.

British armed forces minister Nick Harvey told Parliament that he couldn’t comment on what the French were saying, but he insisted “that we have not taken this decision, and that we have not suggested to the French that we have taken this decision.”

Harvey left open the possibility that Britain would throw helicopters into the fight, but insisted that Britain was — as of Tuesday — merely considering its options.

The use of helicopters would mark a new strategy for NATO, which has seen Gadhafi’s forces adapt, often turning to urban fighting to make strikes by fighter planes more difficult.

Nimble, low-flying helicopters can more easily carry out precision strikes than jets, but they are also more vulnerable to ground fire. The alliance has had no military deaths since it began enforcing a no-fly zone on March 31.

___

Faul reported from Benghazi. Associated Press writer Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, and Raphael G. Satter in London contributed to this report.

%d bloggers like this: