The night skies light up as NATO bombed Tripoli
NATO planes have launched a series of air attacks on Libya's capital Tripoli, with correspondents saying they may be the largest so far of the campaign.
Some of the strikes appear to have targeted Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound.
They came after France announced it and the UK would also deploy attack helicopters to escalate strike power, reports the BBC.
NATO is enforcing a UN resolution to protect civilians, following the uprising against Col Gaddafi's rule.
Between 12 and 20 explosions were reported in the early hours of Tuesday.
The BBC's Andrew North, in Tripoli, said the first blasts were in the vicinity of Bab al-Aziziya and were followed by more in other parts of the city.
He says the hotel journalists have been staying in was shaken to its foundation by some of the blasts.
After each a NATO aircraft could be heard in the sky.
Plumes of smoke were rising from the area of Bab al-Aziziya and anti-aircraft guns were firing.
Libyan government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim said three people were killed and 150 wounded in the strikes.
Ibrahim said barracks of a volunteer unit of the Libyan army had been targeted but most of the casualties were civilians living nearby. The statements could not be independently verified.
Our correspondent says he has not been taken to the barracks but was escorted to a hospital and shown people said to have been injured in the strikes.
He says people have come out on to the streets to show support for Col Gaddafi.
The attacks came after French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet confirmed media reports that France was deploying attack helicopters to NATO's Libya mission.
He also said Britain would send helicopters. He said both countries would deploy the new forces as soon as possible.
The UK has yet to confirm the deployment.
Earlier, France's Le Figaro newspaper said that 12 helicopters were despatched to Libya on the French carrier Tonnerre on 17 May. The helicopters involved were allegedly Tigre and Gazelle.
The deployment would increase pressure on Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces, as helicopters can hit targets on the ground more accurately.
BBC defence correspondent, Caroline Wyatt says using attack helicopters marks a significant escalation of the campaign.
She says the UK's Apache attack helicopters would deploy from HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy's largest warship. Our correspondent says the BBC understands their use was authorised by Prime Minister David Cameron at a meeting of the National Security Council.
NATO jets have been targeting Col Gaddafi's military infrastructure, but have been unable to stop the fighting.
Rebels control much of Libya's east, while Col Gaddafi's forces control most of the west of the country.