Libyan gov’t claims ‘barbaric’ NATO raid killed civilians, children
LIBYAN officials revealed nine bodies, five from the same family including two toddlers, killed in a “barbaric” NATO air raid yesterday, hours after international organisations urged a political process to end the war.
Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim accused the Western alliance of deliberately targeting civilians, saying there were no military targets anywhere near the residential area of the capital that was bombed.
He demanded that NATO end its attacks to clear the way for dialogue, after international organisations including the the Arab League, the European Union and the UN called for “accelerating” political efforts to end the conflict, which began in February.
Journalists were taken to the al-Arada district of Tripoli to see rescue teams helped by bystanders desperately searching for survivors among the wreckage of a two-storey block of flats hit by the bombs. Two bodies were pulled from the rubble.
The journalists then went to a Tripoli hospital, where they saw the bodies of a woman and two toddlers, members of the family killed in the raid.
Mr Ibrahim said he feared the death toll would rise as the building was home to at least 15 people.
There was no immediate word from NATO on the airstrike, but if confirmed the civilian deaths would be an embarrassment for the military alliance, which has led the bombing campaign under a UN mandate to protect civilians.
“It is another night of massacre, terror and horror at the hands of NATO,” the Libyan government spokesman said.
Western leaders “are morally and legally responsible for these murders”, Mr Ibrahim said. “This is not propaganda. It is not something we can stage.”
The alliance has acknowledged mis-hits in the past, most of them involving rebel fighters wrongly identified as government troops.
Mr Ibrahim called on NATO to halt its “aggression” against Libya to clear the way for dialogue to end the conflict ravaging the North African nation.
“NATO is very good at attacking and killing people, but it is very bad at starting dialogue,” he said.
NATO acknowledged on Saturday that warplanes under its command accidentally hit a column of rebel fighters on Thursday near the oil refinery town of Brega, on the front line between Libya’s government-held west and the rebel-held east.
After talks in Cairo, the African Union, the Arab League, the EU and the UN issued a joint statement underlining the importance of “accelerating the launch of a political process that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people”.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton attended the meeting, along with outgoing Arab League chief Amr Mussa and African Union head Jean Ping, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon joined by live video link.