NATO Confirms Libyan Claim of New Airstrike

Posted June 20th, 2011 at 12:30 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO on Monday confirmed a Libyan government claim of an early-morning airstrike on a compound of a close associate to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

NATO at first denied the strike, saying the alliance had not conducted any recent operations in the area of Surman, about 65 kilometers west of the capital, Tripoli.

The Libyan government said the supporter of Mr. Gadhafi escaped unharmed but at least two of his grandchildren were among 15 killed in the airstrike.

NATO said it could not confirm the deaths. A statement termed the compound a “high-level” command center.

The latest Libyan accusation comes a day after NATO acknowledged that an airstrike by its forces may have killed civilians in the Libyan capital.

The alliance said Sunday's airstrikes were launched against a military missile site, but “one weapon did not strike the intended target” because of a possible “weapons system failure.” NATO said it regretted the loss of innocent civilian lives.

Libyan officials said the Sunday attack killed nine people, including two children, in one of Tripoli's residential neighborhoods.

On Saturday, NATO said that aircraft under its command mistakenly attacked a Libyan rebel column last week near the oil refinery town of Brega. The number of casualties were not revealed.

Meanwhile, China says the head of the Libyan opposition council fighting longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi will visit China this week.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Monday that Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the Transitional National Council, will make a two-day visit beginning Tuesday.

China held talks earlier this month with an envoy from Mr. Gadhafi, and Chinese diplomats have met with anti-Gadhafi rebels based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.