Libya rebels: NATO raid killed Gathafi son
BENGHAZI, Libya - A NATO raid killed Moamer Gathafi's son Khamis and more than 30 other people, rebels said Friday, as Tripoli accused the alliance of targeting civilian sites and trying to create a humanitarian crisis.
Khamis Gathafi, 28, was confirmed to be among the dead following a NATO air strike on a command centre in the western town of Zliten, a rebel spokesman told AFP, citing spies operating among Gathafi's ranks.
"Overnight there was an aircraft attack by NATO on the Gathafi operations room in Zliten and there are around 32 Gathafi troops killed. One of them is Khamis," said Mohammed Zawawi, a spokesman for the United Revolutionary Forces.
Rebels said their own operations room in eastern Libya had also intercepted radio chatter indicating Gathafi's son had been killed.
But a spokesman for Gathafi's regime said the claim was untrue.
"Basically the news about the killing of Khamis by a NATO air strike are very dirty lies to cover the murder of civilians in the peaceful city," said Mussa Ibrahim.
There was no independent verification of his death, which has been rumoured a number of times during Libya's five month-long civil war.
At the Naples headquarters of NATO's Libya operations, an official asked about the claim, said: "We're looking into it."
Khamis, who was trained at a Russian military academy, commands the eponymous and much-feared Khamis Brigade -- one of the Libyan regime's toughest fighting units.
The strike appears to have come just hours after Tripoli took journalists on an escorted tour of the centre of Zliten, an effort to rubbish rebel claims the town was under attack.
Fighters from the rebel enclave of Misrata, 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the east, announced this week they had made progress in Zliten, a strategic coastal town on the road to Tripoli.
But authorities in Tripoli quickly denied that, saying they controlled the entire town.
On Thursday an AFP journalist saw the town centre was in the hands of regime forces, although intensive artillery fire was heard in the distance.
Residents said the frontline is located at a distance of 10 to 15 kilometres (six to nine miles) east of the town centre while rebel official said they control three eastern neighbourhoods.
State television reported meanwhile that NATO warplanes struck Tripoli early on Friday, as the Gathafi regime accused rebels of sabotaging a key pipeline feeding the country's sole functioning refinery.
About 10 loud explosions rocked the Libyan capital around 1:30 am (2330 GMT), an AFP journalist said.
Shortly afterwards, Libyan television said "civilian and military sites" at the southeastern suburb of Khellat al-Ferjan had been targeted by "the colonialist aggressor."
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim meanwhile said late Thursday that rebel forces had sabotaged a pipeline in the strategic Nefusa mountains, southeast of Tripoli.
"The rebels turned off a valve and poured cement over it," he said, adding that this would lead to a shortage of electricity in the capital as oil and gas were used at the Zawiyah refinery to generate power.
Kaaim said food and medicine supplies were spoiling in the capital due to long power cuts. Tripoli residents complained Thursday of extensive blackouts and an acute shortage of gas canisters.
NATO "wants to create a humanitarian crisis in Libya while the aim of its mission is to protect civilians," Kaaim said.