Libya Accuses NATO of Civilian Deaths

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The Libyan government is accusing NATO forces of killing dozens of civilians in a village near the western town of Zlitan.

Authorities Tuesday said 85 people were killed late Monday following allied airstrikes over the region. State-run television showed video of what it said were victims of the strikes, including women and small children. The government said there will be a three-day mourning period for the victims.

NATO says its warplanes hit targets in the Zlitan area Monday. But at a Tuesday news conference, an alliance spokesman said there is “no evidence of civilian casualties at this stage.” NATO said it is investigating the reports.

Also Tuesday, rebels say two people were killed after pro-government forces and opposition fighters clashed near the strategic oil port of Brega.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is facing mounting international pressure. European Union officials announced plans Tuesday to widen sanctions against Mr. Gadhafi. They say the EU will impose restrictions this week targeting the al-Sharara oil company and an administrative affairs organization with ties to the Libyan leader.

Canada has ordered all remaining Libyan diplomats at the embassy in Ottawa to leave the country, in an effort to “isolate and delegitimize” the government of Moammar Gadhafi.

Foreign Minister John Baird called the Libyan diplomats persona non grata . He said they have five days to vacate the embassy and leave the country.

He said Canada is also cutting off the diplomats' access to embassy bank accounts.

The Gadhafi government has been widely criticized for responding to unrest and pro-democracy demonstrations with a fierce crackdown. Canada is taking part in the NATO mission that is assisting rebel fighters in the violent struggle against loyalist forces.