Pressing to break a two-month siege, rebels in the port city of Misrata said they captured the local airport and pushed Moammar Gadhafi's forces farther from the city's western outskirts.
The reported advances were the latest in a recent flurry of accounts of rebel victories, coinciding with intensified NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi's forces in several areas of Libya. In all, NATO said Wednesday, the alliance has carried out more than 2,400 airstrikes since March 31 as part of the effort to assist the rebels and pressure Gadhafi to end his 42-year authoritarian rule.
At least four airstrikes appeared to target central Tripoli overnight. The crashing sound was clearly audible from the hotel where foreign journalists are staying in the Libyan capital. Wailing ambulances were heard minutes after the last missile exploded, along with the thundering sound of military aircraft. It wasn't immediately clear what the strikes hit. Reporters are not allowed to leave their hotels without government minders.
The strikes came hours after Gadhafi made his first TV appearance since an April 30 NATO attack on his sprawling compound killed one of his sons. Libyan TV showed Gadhafi meeting tribal leaders but did not record him speaking. To authenticate the scene, the camera zoomed in on the date on a TV monitor in the room and it read Wednesday, May 11.
In Benghazi, the rebels' headquarters city in eastern Libya, the opposition National Transitional Council received its highest-ranking foreign visitor — Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. He said the people of Poland and the European Union "wish victory to the Libyan people in making this transition to democracy."
In Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called for "an immediate, verifiable cease-fire" in Libya and said Gadhafi's government had agreed to another visit by a special envoy.
Security forces fired on antigovernment protesters in three cities, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 100, doctors said.
At least 10 people were killed in Sana, the capital, and more than 100 were injured, said Abdul Wahab al-Anesi, a doctor at a field hospital in the city. "I expect the number of killed to rise," he said. "We are not accepting anyone else at the field hospital. We are full. We have a shortage of supplies."
A protester was killed in Taiz in the southwestern mountains, said a doctor there, Abdul Rahim al-Samie, and about 45 were injured. He said that for the first time he saw patients with injuries caused by large-caliber weapons. And one was also killed in Hodeidah, a port city on the western coast, a local doctor said.
Information from the New York Times was used in this report.