|The UK defence chief said NATO needs to increase pressure on Gaddafi through intense military action [GALLO/GETTY]
NATO must expand its air campaign in Libya and begin targeting the infrastructure of leader Muammar Gaddafi's government, not just military assets that threaten civilians, Britain's armed forces chief has said.
"The vice is closing on Gaddafi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action," General Sir David Richards told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. "We now have to tighten the vice to demonstrate to Gaddafi that the game is up and he must go."
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The interview did not specify which kinds of infrastructure Richards meant.
Powerful NATO countries such as France and Britain have said that the solution to the Libyan conflict must include the removal of the Gaddafi family from power, but they have so far shied away from expanding their efforts. International support for the UN Security Council resolution that authorised intervention in Libya hinged on the resolution's tight focus on protecting civilians.
But if NATO does not "up the ante", Richards said, there is a risk that Gaddafi may remain in power.
"If we want to increase the pressure on Gaddafi's regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit," he said.
Risk to civilians
Richards also said that it would be legitimate to kill Gaddafi if he were to die in an air strike on a bunker responsible for "command and control" of the military, since such a place would be involved in attacks on the civilian population.
NATO has managed to limit civilian casualties since taking over control of the air campaign on March 31, but expanding its list of targets would raise that risk.
Early on Friday, alliance jets struck what NATO said was a command-and-control bunker in the eastern frontline town of Brega, but the government claimed that the building was actually a guest house and that 11 imams had died in the attack, while 40 others were injured.
A Dutch engineer told Sky News that he had helped build the guest house and the underground bunker for Gaddafi in 1988, and that the bunker was meant to be a communications hub.
Meanwhile, the campaign against Gaddafi continued on Sunday in the capital, Tripoli, where several loud explosions were reported.
The blasts shook the east of Tripoli and columns of smoke rose into the sky in many locations, residents from Tajura, a suburb of the Libyan capital, told the AFP news agency.