14 May 2011

Nato ‘cannot confirm’ 11 killed in Brega airstrike

As Colonel Gaddafi claims he is in a place where he cannot “be reached or killed”, Libya accuses Nato of killing 11 Muslim clerics in an airstrike on Brega, in eastern Libya, on 13 May.

Nato has confirmed air strikes in Libya on 13 May targeted 20 separate armoured vehicle storage buildings in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, as well as two surface to air missile launchers and a command and control bunker.

Targets for air strikes in the besieged city of Misrata included military trucks and an armoured personnel carrier. Elsewhere, ammunition storages were targeted in al-Qaryat, and two tankers in Brega.

An unnamed Nato spokesman told Channel 4 News planes had been “definitely pretty busy” over Libya on 13 May.

Meanwhile, Nato has said it cannot confirm a claim by Libyan Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim that an airstrike in Brega on Friday had killed 11 imams attending a religious conference.

Nato’s website said that it regretted “any loss of life by innocent civilians when they occur”. In a statement issued on Saturday, NATO said the building struck had been “clearly identified as a command and control centre”.

Mr Ibrahim called the attack a “barbaric crime”, adding that another 50 people had been wounded in the incident.

And he announced that President Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, had promised violence in return.

“He (Gaddafi) said for each imam that was killed we shall kill 1,000 people of France, Britain, Qatar and United Arab Emirates and the States,” Mr Ibrahim said.

Yesterday Colonel Gaddafi moved to quash rumours that he had been injured, with Libyan state television carrying a brief audio recording in which he called NATO “cowardly crusaders”.

He continued: “I live in a place where you can’t get to and kill me. I live in the hearts of millions.”

The colonel has not appeared in public for two weeks, when an air strike on a house in Tripoli killed his youngest son and three of his grandchildren.

Earlier, the Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, had told reporters he believed that the Libyan leader “was most probably outside Tripoli, and probably even wounded”.