1 May 2011

Gaddafi’s youngest son ‘killed in NATO air strike’

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi survives a bomb attack in the capital Tripoli which kills his youngest son and three grandchildren, the government says. NATO insists individuals have not been targeted.

Gaddafi's youngest son 'killed in NATO air strike'

Colonel Gaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab, and three young grandchildren were killed in an air strike on a house in the Bab al-Aziziyah area of Tripoli, a Libyan government spokesman said.

The Libyan leader was in the house at the time of the attack but was unharmed and is in “good health”, the spokesman said.

Officials took journalists to the site of the bombardment which has been hit by at least three missiles.

Saif, 29, was one of Gaddafi’s less prominent sons and was described by officials as a student who had studied in Germany. The grandchildren were in their “pre-teens” spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said.

“This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country,” Ibrahim said. “This is not permitted by international law. It is not permitted by any moral code or principle.”

The deaths have not been independently confirmed.

The UK Foreign Office on Sunday said it could not verify reports of who was killed in the attack.

It added that officials were investigating reports that the British residence in the Libyan capital had been destroyed.

A spokeswoman said if the residence in Tripoli had been destroyed it would be a “deplorable” act as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime had a responsibility to protect diplomatic missions.

Britain currently has no diplomatic presence in Tripoli after closing the embassy earlier this year as the situation in Libya deteriorated.

NATO denied directly targeting Gaddafi amid political concerns that the alliance had gone beyond the UN resolution.

Our lot is as nothing compared to the migrant workers living in terrible conditions and caught in the middle of somebody else’s war. Alex Thomson in Misrata

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted the attacks in Libya were in line with the UN resolution which allows the British and French-led coalition to protect civilians.

Cameron declined to comment on what he called the “unconfirmed report” about members of Gaddafi’s family being killed.

NATO confirmed it had launched air strikes on military targets in the area but denied targeting individuals.

“NATO continued its precision strikes against regime military installations in Tripoli overnight, including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Aziziyah neighbourhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening,” the alliance said in a statement.

NATO’s commander of Libya operations, Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, said the target was part of a strategy to hit command centres that threaten civilians.

“All NATO’s targets are military in nature…We do not target individuals,” he said in a statement.

Trapped in Misrata

Fighting between pro-Gaddafi forces and rebels has continues in parts of Libya as the conflict reaches a stalemate with neither side able to achieve a decisive blow.

The western city of Misrata has been under siege for several weeks amid fierce fighting.

Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson, who has been in the city for several days, said that humanitarian aid shipments had been temporarily halted from docking due to mines planted in the sea.

“Beyond the horizon, 12 miles out at anchor, lies the Red Star ferry on charter to the International Organisation for Migration,” Alex Thomson writes from Misrata’s port.

“Her 16 hour voyage from Benghazi to Misrata now an odyssey several days long as she waits offshore for notice that it is safe to dock.

“In recent days NATO has apprehended Colonel Gaddafi’s forces lying sea mines around the harbour. The Colonel said on national TV two nights ago that any vessel entering or leaving this port will be a target.

“So we are trapped, but our lot is as nothing compared to hundreds of migrant workers living in terrible conditions in the heat and dust, caught in the middle of somebody else’s war, now just trying to get home to Chad, Niger or Ghana.”

Read more from Alex Thomson in Libya here.