TRIPOLI, Libya – NATO missiles struck Moammar Gadhafi’s compound early Thursday, government officials said, hours after the longtime leader appeared on state television to dispel rumors that he had died.

The attacks continued a major escalation of strikes on sites that NATO describes as “command-and-control targets” but that the Libyan government says are possible locations for Gadhafi.

NATO attacks on Tripoli have spiked in the past two days since a spokesman said allies had entered the second phase of the campaign. Attacks on bunkers and other sites in the city that NATO defines as key targets, including tanks, missile launchers and ammunition depots as well as command-and-control sites, rose from three on Monday to 11 on Tuesday and 10 on Wednesday.

Gadhafi appeared on Libyan television late Wednesday. Hours later, missiles blasted several areas in his sprawling Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, located just over a mile from the hotel in which his videotaped appearance was recorded.

Although NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that Gadhafi must step down, NATO has denied that it is targeting the Libyan leader, who has ruled the country for 41 years.

“NATO is not targeting individuals,” Brig. Gen. Claudio Gabellini, chief operations officer of the Libyan mission, said in a briefing in Naples on Tuesday. “We are after command-and-control centers as a second part of the broad campaign…. First we had to stabilize the situation in most parts of the country, and then we could move to the next step, which is preventing the regime forces from giving orders to the troops in the field.”

NATO said in a statement Thursday that it had struck a bunker complex “that was used to coordinate attacks against civilian populations.”

A Libyan government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, said that the facility that was hit — which was inside the walls of Gadhafi’s expansive residential and governmental compound — was a sewage treatment plant, but reporters visiting the complex were able to peer into a reinforced concrete chamber, at least 30 feet deep, that smelled of fuel, not sewage.

Meanwhile, in London, the head of the rebels’ transitional government, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, said during a high-level visit Thursday that Gadhafi opponents in Tripoli were in the process of acquiring weapons and predicted they would eventually contest regime forces in the capital.

“Tripoli is surrounded both internally and externally, and every day its sons go out and execute a few limited operations, perhaps to acquire some weapons,” Abdul-Jalil said. “Tripoli will rise to get rid of this regime.”

The rebels control most of eastern Libya, while Gadhafi controls most of the west including Tripoli.