NATO strikes, NTC kill 151 in Sirte: Gaddafi aide

TUNIS Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:39pm EDT

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TUNIS (Reuters) - Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's spokesman said on Thursday that NATO air strikes and shelling of Sirte by interim government forces on Wednesday and Thursday had killed 151 people.

Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, in a satellite phone call to Reuters in Tunis, also said the city's main hospital had run out of medical supplies and power.

His claims could not immediately be verified as Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, is largely cut off from communication and is besieged on three fronts by ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) forces.

A NATO official told Reuters that it had attacked Sirte over the last 48 hours, but that the most significant target was a Gaddafi command center.

"The compound was clearly a military target since (Gaddafi) forces were using it to coordinate and support operations against civilians," the official said.

At the time of that strike, NATO had no indication there were any civilians in the area and Ibrahim's claims of civilian deaths were "unsubstantiated," he said.

"Between yesterday and this morning, 151 civilians were killed inside their homes as the Grad rockets and other explosives fell upon their heads," Ibrahim said.

"The city hospital stopped functioning altogether last night. Patients died simply because nothing can be done to help them."

A familiar figure in Tripoli while Gaddafi was in power, Ibrahim spoke on Thursday from an undisclosed location.

He made similar claims last week when he said that NATO raids on Sirte had hit a residential building and a hotel, killing 354 people.

A spokesman at the time said NATO was aware of the allegations but that such claims were often unfounded.

"ROCKETS AND BOMBS"

Sirte is one of only two major towns still under the control of pro-Gaddafi forces after the NTC took over most of another stronghold, Sabha, on Wednesday.

Ibrahim called on the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, foreign media and rights groups to try to get into the center of Sirte.

"We hold them directly responsible to expose the crimes committed against a whole city with the vigor and energy they had when they believed they were helping the cities of Misrata and Zawiyah from Libyan armed forces," he said, referring to a devastating Gaddafi bombardment of those cities during the war.

NATO says its air strikes in Libya since March have not killed large numbers of civilians.

Ibrahim also attacked the raising of Libya's new flag at the United Nations on Tuesday.

"Look at Palestine -- more than 60 years legitimate struggle for a state and still nobody wants to hear the case of the Palestinian people to have a seat at the U.N.," Ibrahim said.

"Yet some armed gangs, supported by NATO, get their flag raised at the U.N. before they're in even in control of the whole country. The Libyan people didn't vote for that flag. It's all through violence and rockets and bombs."

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Brussels; Editing by Roger Atwood)

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Comments (3)
groundhogzero wrote:
What an odd piece of reporting. Unsubstantiated claims that
more than 151 civilians were murdered by NATO and NATO-backed
rebels are relegated to the end of this “news” article, yet
similarly unsubstantiated claims of a few individuals being
murdered by loyalists fill the headline.

By the time the reader learns of the sheer horror and scale of
the NATO murders, pathetically conducted in the name of
“protecting” and “liberating” those very same murdered
civilians, journalistic trickery has conspired to ensure that
MOST readers (not me) blame the loyalists for the continuing
violence, and not the perpetrators.

Reuters used to inspire confidence in its balanced reporting.
This tradition, sadly, has been sold down the river. Pity.

Sep 22, 2011 1:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dburry wrote:
Routers, please turn off your comments on these kinds of stories. I am weary of anti-war people toting the crazy man’s lies, because they’d rather see HIM wipe out ENTIRE CITIES!!! Some of the larger cities in the country too. Every last man, woman, and child, like a million people… yes, in a country that only has a couple million!! This is what this war has prevented!

War is awful. It should always be avoided when possible, therefore. I agree with anti-war sentiment in that respect. But this world isn’t perfect. Sometimes really bad things need to happen, to prevent MUCH worse things. It sucks, but that’s the way the world is! I didn’t used to feel this way so strongly, but ever since 9/11 I decided that I’d kill an evil man bent on killing thousands (or more) if that’s the only way to prevent such an atrocity. It is flat out justice and the right thing to do. No amount of anti-war talk or touting the crazy man’s lies who’s trying to do that much killing changes this fact.

Sep 22, 2011 5:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Renox wrote:
The news today consists of LIES PROPAGANDA and MANIPULATION.Furthermore -insult to intelligence. The suggestion that to protect people one must bomb that is the same twisted brainwash that touts that the economy can only be revived by spending more money.
The idiotic assumptions that lesser evil is better than letting dictators roam around, led to more killings, more wars and showed how belligerent political thinking is. How can you have the arrogance and conceit to decide whose life is more precious?

Sep 23, 2011 5:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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