* Government says 19 civilians killed in NATO attack
* NATO says it struck a "command and control node"
* Doctor says 11 killed in Misrata shelling
* Rebels in Western Mountains shut off key oil pipeline
(Updates with 11 killed in Misrata, rebel spokesman quote)
By Saif Tawfiq
SURMAN, Libya, June 20 The Libyan government
said on Monday 19 civilians were killed in a NATO air strike on
the home of one of Muammar Gaddafi's top officials, a day after
NATO admitted killing civilians in a separate aerial attack.
Libyan officials took reporters to Surman, 70 km (45 miles)
west of Tripoli, to the site of what they said was a NATO air
strike on the home of Khouildi Hamidi, a member of Libya's
12-strong Revolutionary Command Council, led by Gaddafi.
Rescue teams were looking for survivors while reporters
visited the site. Reporters were then taken to a hospital in
nearby Sabrata where they were shown nine bodies, including
those of two children, plus some body parts, which the Libyan
government said were all of people killed in the attack.
The state-run Jana news agency later reported on its website
that eight children were among 19 people killed in the attack.
The dead included members of Hamidi's family, it said. The
government said Hamidi himself was not hurt.
NATO said it had bombed a "legitimate military target -- a
command and control node" in the area, and it could not confirm
whether civilians had been hurt. It said NATO does not target
"This strike will greatly degrade the Gaddafi regime forces'
ability to carry on their barbaric assault against the Libyan
people," Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, the Canadian
commander of NATO's Libya operation, said in a statement.
If the Libyan government's account of civilian deaths is
confirmed, the incident could further complicate operations of
the NATO-led military alliance, starting to feel the strain of a
campaign that is taking longer and costing more than planned.
NATO acknowledged on Sunday for the first time that it had
killed multiple civilians in Libya, when a strike intended to
hit a missile site erred and destroyed a house in Tripoli.
Bouchard said he regretted the loss of life in that incident,
and a system failure may have knocked the weapon off course.
Libyan officials say NATO forces have killed more than 700
civilians, although they have not presented evidence of such
large numbers of civilian deaths and NATO denies them. Libya
says one of Gaddafi's sons and three of his grandchildren were
killed six weeks ago when Gaddafi's Tripoli compound was hit.
Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Monday
civilian deaths pose a risk to the NATO-led military alliance.
NATO states have been hitting targets in Libya since March 19 in
what they say is an operation to protect civilians.
"NATO is endangering its credibility; we cannot risk killing
civilians," Frattini told reporters before an EU foreign
ministers' meeting in Luxembourg to discuss ways to aid rebels.
The Arab League, which in March asked the United Nations
Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect
civilians, condemned the loss of life in Sunday's incident.
"When the Arab League agreed on the idea of having a no-fly
zone over Libya it was to protect civilians but when civilians
get killed this has to be condemned with the harshest of
statements," said Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Helli.
The Libyan leader says the Western-led military campaign is
an act of colonial aggression designed to steal Libya's oil.
'LOSING PROPAGANDA WAR'
Libyan officials accused NATO of deliberately targeting the
population. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim called Monday's
strike on Hamidi's house "a cowardly terrorist act".
Frattini expressed concern that NATO was losing the
propaganda war: "We cannot continue our shortcomings in the way
we communicate with the public, which doesn't keep up with the
daily propaganda of Gaddafi".
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United
States joined NATO in regreting loss of civilian life.
"These missions are extremely difficult. They are extremely
dangerous. We faced this situation in Afghanistan, we faced it
in the past in Kosovo," she said. "It's always an issue in any
NATO mission to maintain popular support, to maintain public
understanding for why we are there ..."
Ashour Shamis, a UK-based Libyan opposition activist, said
Hamidi played a key role in Gaddafi's war against the rebels.
"He is very much there, controlling the army and supervising
military activities," he said.
NATO continued its three-month campaign of air
strikes on Monday. A Reuters reporter in central Tripoli said he
heard jets overhead around midday, then a distant explosion.
There were no details immediately available on what was hit.
The rebels have made slow progress since NATO countries
joined the fight three months ago, but are now advancing towards
Tripoli from a bastion in Misrata east of the capital and from
the Western Mountains region to its southwest.
Shelling attacks by loyalist forces positioned outside
Misrata killed 11 civilians in the rebel-held coastal city on
Monday, a doctor at the main hospital there said by phone.
Those included a child who was killed when a salvo of three
rockets fired by Gaddafi forces hit a built-up area near the
port, a Reuters reporter said. Two more children were wounded.
A rebel at the scene named Hassan Douwa said: "Is NATO
waiting for Gaddafi to kill us all before it does its job? Give
us the planes and we will do it ourselves."
Rebel spokesman Ahmed Hassan in Misrata said Gaddafi's
forces intensified their shelling of Misrata on Monday, with at
least 20 rockets landing in the city centre.
Rebels in the Western Mountains said they had shut off a
pipeline that supplies crude from an oilfield in the south to
the Zawiyah refinery near the capital Tripoli. The refinery is
one of the few sources of fuel for Gaddafi-held areas.
"This is an attempt by the rebels to stifle the Gaddafi
regime in Tripoli," rebel spokesman Juma Ibrahim said by phone
from the Western Mountains town of Zintan.
Rebels have been boosted by defections of Gaddafi loyalists.
They said on Monday 22 soldiers had defected from a unit in the
south. Gaddafi officials say defections have not made a
significant dent in government forces.
Rebel diplomatic chief Mahmoud Jibril is due on Tuesday to
travel to China, which has not taken a firm side in Libya's
civil war but has tried to expand ties with the opposition.
EU foreign ministers agreed at their meeting in Luxembourg
on Monday to look into the possibility of using frozen Libyan
funds to assist the rebels.
The rebel oil and finance minister accused the West on
Saturday of failing to keep promises of vital financial aid,
leaving the rebels without any money to continue their
four-month campaign to unseat Gaddafi.
In a joint statement they said the European Union
acknowledged the urgent financial needs of the rebel
transitional council, which requires more than $3 billion to
cover salaries and other needs in the next six months.
(Additional reporting by Nick Carey in Tripoli, Hamid Ould
Ahmed in Algiers, David Brunnstrom in Brussels, Maria Golovnina
in Benghazi, Matt Robinson in Misrata, Joseph Nasr in Berlin,
Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Ali Abdelatti in Cairo and Washington
and Cairo bureaux; Writing by Christian Lowe, Tom Pfeiffer and
Joseph Nasr; Editing by Peter Graff)