Russia says Western strikes kill Libyan civilians

MOSCOW Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:39am EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia called on Britain, France and the United States Sunday to stop air strikes against what it said were non-military targets in Libya, saying the attacks had caused civilian casualties.

"In that respect we call on countries involved to stop the non-selective use of force," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.

Lukashevich said 48 civilians were reported to have been killed and 150 wounded in the air strikes, figures that matched those given early Sunday by Libyan state TV. He said strikes had destroyed a medical facility, roads and bridges.

The Western countries say they hit only military targets, including air defenses and tanks that were threatening the eastern city of Benghazi.

"We believe a mandate given by the U.N. Security Council resolution -- a controversial move in itself -- should not be used to achieve goals outside its provisions which only see measures necessary to protect civilian population," Lukashevich said.

Russia abstained during a U.N. Security Council vote which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians against leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

(Writing by Gleb Bryanski)

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