Gaddafi Tripoli compound Bab al-Azizya to be turned into public park

 

A fortified Tripoli compound that once belonged to Muammar Gaddafi and which anti-regime rebels stormed in a turning point of the struggle to rid Libya of the dictator, will be turned into a public park, the government has announced.

Though heavily shelled by Nato and sacked by rebels, the government hopes to restore Bab al-Azizya, or Splendid Gate, into “a green area to be enjoyed by the people of Tripoli”.

It was originally built by King Idris, whom Colonel Gaddafi toppled before expanding it with a long web of tunnels spreading across the city.

In the centre of the capital, it was a staunch fortress throughout Gaddafi’s 42-year autocracy, which was ended by a popular uprising in August 2011. One of the key moments was when rebels penetrated the compound, after a fierce firefight with loyalists.

Once inside, rebels were photographed smashing windows, kicking around the head of a Gaddafi statue, and piercing his pictures with bayonets.

Gaddafi died two months later – almost exactly two years ago today – killed unceremoniously by rebels in Sirte. And yesterday Ikram Bash Imam, the country’s Tourism Minister, said “preliminary works” had begun to turn the centre into a park.

She said: “We are now trying to return this area to what it was before... so it will be a green area to be enjoyed by the people of Tripoli.”

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