Libyan Rebels Have Captured Qaddafi's Compound

Fighters were seen celebrating inside the compound's outer gate

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Update 3:00 ET: New photos and videos are coming out from inside Qaddafi's compound. This AP photo shows rebels stomping on part of a statue of Qaddafi:

Update 12:46 ET: The Associated Press reports that hundreds of rebels are now pouring into the compound (some on golf carts), firing off weapons in celebration and "stomping on a bronze bust of the longtime leader, whose whereabouts remained unknown":

Several rebels, in a show of contempt for the man who ruled their vast North African nation for more than 40 years, placed a head seized from another statue under their feet and kicked it. One happily lifted it above his head while his comrades danced and yelled joyfully around him.

The AP has an interactive map of the rebels' advance on the compound here.

Update 12:40 p.m. ET: The above photograph shows fighters scaling a sculpture Qaddafi erected in the late '80s depicting a hand crushing a U.S. fighter jet. According to Reuters "Gaddafi used the backdrop in March in a television broadcast to rally supporters" and it had been originally commissioned by Qaddafi after President Ronald Reagan ordered airstrikes on Libya in 1986. Sky News has video of the sculpture here.

Update 12:26 ET: On TV, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel says "Strategically this means that Tripoli has fallen." Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the Tripoli compound is the "seat" of Qaddafi's political power." Noman Benotman, a senior analyst at Quilliam, says "This is Qaddafi's Pentagon."

Update 12:12 p.m. ET:  Reporting from inside Qaddafi's compound, an Al Jazeera reporter says "there is no resistance anymore inside the compound." According to the BBC, "Opposition fighters were seen firing into the air inside the compound, and opposition radio reported that an independence flag was raised over Gadhafi's compound." CNN's Sara Sidner says rebels have told her the "fight is finished" inside the compound. "They could even swim in the swimming pool,” they say. RT has video of rebel fighters streaming into the compound here.

Update: CNN tweets that Libyan rebels have "captured Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli," a finding reported by its correspondent Sara Sidner in Tripoli. Rebels tell her they are going "room to room" in search of Qaddafi and his family members and supporters. CNN anchor Hala Gorani tweets that rebels are showing Sidner "files and documents they say were taken from Ghadafi compound as proof they entered Bab Aziziya." A fuller report is not yet available.

Amid reports that intense fighting is raging around Col. Muammar Qaddafi's compound in Tripoli, rebel fighters tell Sky News they have "breached the first wall" into the Libyan leader's Bab al Aziziyah complex. A separate report from Reuters says rebels can be seen firing weapons into the air "inside the Gadhafi compound" in celebration, which has been confirmed by the Arab news channel Al Arabiya and Al Jazeeera. "There have been explosions and smoke coming from the compound," Sky News reports. "Opposition fighters are thought to be preparing for a large offensive, as Sky sources say there is a large build-up of men, vehicles and weapons about a mile from the Bab al Aziziyah complex." Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford says rebels "were planning to attack the compound today" but not "quite so early." According to The New York Times, rebels were seen surrounding the complex today as gunfire was exchanged between them and pro-Qaddafi forces. The paper notes that the compound is heavily fortified and it's not clear of Qaddafi is inside or even in Tripoli. Additionally, Sky's foreign affairs correspondent Lisa Holland notes that rebels would need to penetrate at least three gates to enter the residential section of the complex. The Associated Press has posted raw video of fighting in Tripoli:

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