Libyan rebels said they launched an attack on Tripoli in coordination with NATO, and Associated Press reporters heard unusually heavy gunfire and explosions in the capital. The fighting erupted just hours after the opposition captured the key city of Zawiya nearby.
Gunbattles and mortar rounds were heard clearly at the hotel where foreign correspondents stay in the capital. Explosions also sounded in the same area as NATO aircraft carried out heavy bombing runs after nightfall.
"We planned this operation with NATO, our Arab associates and our rebel fighters in Tripoli with commanders in Benghazi," Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head of the rebel leadership council, told the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Benghazi, hundreds of miles east of Tripoli, is the rebels' de facto capital.
Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim appeared on Libyan television to deny that there was an uprising in Tripoli.
"Sure, there were some armed militants who escaped into some neighborhoods and there were some scuffles, but we dealt with it within a half hour and it is now calm," he said.