Explosions thundered across the Libyan capital and wailing ambulances raced through the city as the last missile exploded.
Government officials and state-run Libyan television said the strikes early targeted Bab al-Azaziya, Gaddafi''s sprawling compound in Tripoli. They did not say which of the compound's buildings were targeted.
At the nearby Khadra Hospital, medics wheeled in the bodies of two men they said were killed in the shelling. One of the men was completely blackened and charred, his hands pausing mid-chest as if trying to defend himself when he died.
The other man's body covered by a green blanket, his leg dangling from the stretcher.
From a bus ferrying reporters to the hospital, smoke could be seen rising from part of the Gaddafi compound. Skid marks left from screeching vehicles crisscrossed the roads around it.
The medics said others had been killed by the airstrikes and were still being retrieved from the compound.
Gaddafi's compound has frequently been the site of recent airstrikes, including one on April 30 that killed the leader's son, Seif al-Arab.
Officials said the Libyan leader was in the compound when that strike occurred but escaped unharmed.
In an apparent effort to dispel rumours that Gaddafi himself had been killed, Libyan state TV showed him 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, which read Wednesday, May 11.
It was apparently recorded at the hotel where foreign correspondents must reside in Tripoli. Gaddafi did not make himself available to them.