UK cannot verify report of death of Gaddafi's son

Gaddafi survives airstrike that reportedly killed his 29-year-old son and 3 of his grandchildren; NATO: Gaddafi not target of strikes.

May 1, 2011 14:40
2 minute read.
Saif al-Arab Gaddafi's home after NATO strike

gaddafi home damage 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Britain cannot confirm reports that a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a NATO air strike, junior Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said on Sunday. "We've no verification of that at the moment. These are still unconfirmed reports. I'm afraid we don't know one way or the other," Burt told Sky News when asked about a Libyan government statement that a NATO air strike in Tripoli had killed Gaddafi's youngest son and three grandchildren.

Burt said command and control centers were "often placed in civilian areas by forces overseas".

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A Libyan government spokesman said on Saturday that Gaddafi survived a NATO air strike that killed his youngest son and three grandchildren and destroyed a Tripoli house.

"What we have now is the law of the jungle," government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told a news conference. "We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians."

Authorities said Gaddafi's youngest son, Saif Al-Arab, had been killed in the attack. Saif al-Arab is one of Gaddafi's less prominent sons, with a limited role in the Tripoli power structure.

Ibrahim said Saif al-Arab, 29, was a student who had studied in Germany.

"We will fight and fight if we have to," Ibrahim said. "The leader offered peace to NATO yesterday and NATO rejected it."

NATO denied targeting members of Gaddafi's family on Sunday. The Western alliance, which is conducting air strikes to protect civilians during an anti-Gaddafi rebellion, confirmed one of its targets included a command center in the Tripoli neighborhood late on Saturday in which the Libyan spokesman said Gaddafi and his family were targeted.

"NATO continued its precision strikes against regime military installations in Tripoli overnight, including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighborhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening," it said.

NATO's commander of Libya operations, Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, said the target was part of a strategy to damage Gaddafi's ability to plan and conduct attacks on civilians.

"All NATO's targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Gaddafi regime's systematic attacks on the Libyan population ... We do not target individuals," he said in a statement.

"I am aware of unconfirmed media reports that some of Gaddafi's family members may have been killed," he said. "We regret all loss of life, especially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict."

Bouchard also reiterated that NATO air strikes had not overstepped the alliance's UN orders.

"NATO is fulfilling its UN mandate to stop and prevent attacks against civilians with precision and care - unlike Gaddafi's forces, which are causing so much suffering."

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