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Missile blasts Gaddafi compound

A cruise missile has blasted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's residential compound in an attack which carried as much symbolism as military effect, and fighter jets destroyed a line of tanks moving on the rebel capital Benghazi.

The US said the international assault would hit any government forces attacking the opposition.

Oil prices jumped to almost 103 US dollars (£63.4) a barrel in Asia on Monday after Gaddafi pledged a "long war" amid a second night of allied strikes.

It is not known where Gaddafi was when the missile hit near his tent late on Sunday, but it seemed to show that while the allies trade nuances over whether the Libyan leader's fall is a goal of their campaign, he is not safe.

Half of the round, three-story administration building was knocked down, smoke was rising from it and pieces of the missile were scattered around, according to an Associated Press photographer escorted to the scene by the Libyan government.

About 300 Gaddafi supporters were in the compound at the time but it is not known if any were hurt.

The US military said the bombardment so far - a rain of Tomahawk cruise missiles and precision bombs from American and European aircraft, including long-range stealth B-2 bombers - had crippled Gaddafi's air defences.

In addition to targeting anti-aircraft sites, US, British and French planes also went after tanks heading for Benghazi, in the opposition-held eastern half of the country.

"I feel like in two days max we will destroy Gaddafi," said Ezzeldin Helwani, 35, a rebel standing next to the smouldering wreckage of an armoured personnel carrier.

At the Pentagon, Navy Vice Admiral William Gortney underlined that strikes are not specifically targeting the Libyan leader or his residence in the capital Tripoli, while Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to "get drawn into details about what or whom may be targeted".

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