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NATO Says Compound Attack in Libya Was 'Legitimate Target'


A Libyan man walking amid the debris of a damaged building on the sprawling estate of Khuwildi Hemidi, a veteran comrade of Moammar Gadhafi in the Surman area, west of Tripoli, June 20, 2011

A Libyan man walking amid the debris of a damaged building on the sprawling estate of Khuwildi Hemidi, a veteran comrade of Moammar Gadhafi in the Surman area, west of Tripoli, June 20, 2011

NATO on Tuesday offered surveillance evidence to show it carried out an airstrike on a "high-level" command center in Libya, despite Libyan government claims it was a civilian target.

NATO spokesman Mike Bracken said in Naples that Monday's strike hit a "control node" in Surman that was used to carry out attacks on civilians. He showed photos of the targeted building, whose roof housed 17 satellite dishes that Bracken said were used in coordinating attacks.

The Libyan government, however, said the strike destroyed a large family compound belonging to a close associate of leader Moammar Gadhafi. It claims at least 15 people were killed.

The government said Khoweidi al-Hamidi, a member of Libya's Revolutionary Command Council, escaped unharmed. But the government says those killed included at least two of Hamidi's grandchildren and his wife.

The influential insider took part in the 1969 coup that brought the Libyan leader to power. His daughter is married to one of Gadhafi's sons, Saadi Gadhafi.

NATO said it has no confirmation of the reported casualties. NATO's Bracken also showed slides of a nearby mosque and school that were undamaged, he said, due to the alliance's use of precision weapons.

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

NATO acknowledged another strike on Sunday that caused civilian casualties and one on Friday, which hit a column of rebel military vehicles.

Bracken said the Sunday incident was caused by a "weapon malfunction" and the Friday incident was a case of mistaken identity.

NATO also said Tuesday it has lost contact with an unmanned helicopter drone that was carrying out surveillance on pro-Gadhafi forces. Bracken says the alliance is looking into the incident.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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