April 12, 2011 / 5:43 PM / 9 years ago

Libya says civilians killed in strike; NATO denies

RABAT (Reuters) - Libya’s state-run television said Tuesday that a NATO air strike on the town of Kikla, south of the capital Tripoli, killed a number of civilians but NATO said the report was misinformation.

“A bombardment by the crusaders’ colonial aggression yesterday struck members of the public security force in charge of organizing road traffic and checking identities,” the Al-Jamahiriya channel said in a written newsflash.

“All the security force members as well as a number of children, women and men were martyred in the attack.”

Kikla lies more than 100 km (60 miles) south of Tripoli. Al-Jamahiriya gave no details on the number of casualties in the incident Monday.

Speaking at a briefing in Brussels, Brigadier-General Mark van Uhm, of NATO’s military staff, said there was an air strike Monday in the Kikla region but it was 21 km from the town and the target was two tanks.

“This differs significantly from what the Libyan state television reported, because they reported an armed strike in the town. So it’s reasonable to assess that this report is a misinformation,” van Uhm said.

Journalists have not been allowed to report freely in western Libya, making it difficult to verify accounts from both warring sides.

A rebel spokesman in the nearby town of Zintan, which has been fighting off attacks from pro-Gaddafi forces for weeks, said his contacts in Kikla had told him the NATO air strike hit between 10 and 15 tanks.

The spokesman, called Abdulrahman, echoed a complaint from many rebels who say that NATO air strikes up to now have not been sufficiently aggressive.

“It was NATO’s first attack in 12 days. They have been flying over the area before that attack but it looked as if they (the coalition) were in it just for tourism,” he said.

Reporting by Souhail Karam in Rabat and David Brunnstrom in Brussels; Writing by Richard Lough and Christian Lowe; Editing by Alison Williams

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