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Libyan Opposition Questions Gadhafi Family Deaths in NATO Strike

  • Peter Clottey

In this photo made on a government organized tour, a man stands next to a hole in a wall at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, May 1, 2011. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli th

In this photo made on a government organized tour, a man stands next to a hole in a wall at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, May 1, 2011. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli th

A prominent member of the opposition Libyan National Movement says embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi is using last Saturday’s NATO airstrike on a family compound as a rallying cry to gain sympathy from his supporters.

Mufta Lamloom also expressed doubt that Gadhafi and his family were in the house during the NATO airstrike.

“This is a stunt which Gadhafi has used before when [the US] bombed [Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya residential compound in] Tripoli [in 1986, in retaliation for the bombing of a German discotheque attributed to Libya],” he said. …

“Gadhafi finds himself in a corner,” Lamloom continued, “and the only way to mobilize people around him in Libya and to embarrass the allies is to say that his son and his grandchildren have been killed in these attacks,” said Lamloom.

He also says the latest NATO airstrikes should serve as yet another warning for Gadhafi to step down and cede power.

His statement comes after NATO said it staged airstrikes in Tripoli Saturday but didn’t confirm any deaths.

On Saturday, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said 29-year-old Saif al-Arab Gadhafi and three of Gadhafi's grandchildren were killed in a strike on the younger Gadhafi's home. Ibrahim says the Libyan leader and his wife were in the home at the time but were not harmed. However, he said several other people inside were hurt. The deaths have not been independently confirmed.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday - without confirming fatalities - that coalition targeting policy is in line with a U.N. mandate to prevent "a loss of civilian life." Cameron said NATO forces are targeting Libya's command and control units, as well as military hardware, and not specific people.

Lamloom called on the international community to release frozen Libyan assets to the opposition National Transitional Council to provide assistance to those living in areas that have come under attack by Gadhafi loyalists.

“The interim council has inherited a lot of problems in eastern Libya, with no money available, with no facilities available, [and] with no infrastructure available…So, the international community should give them financial help,” said Lamloom.

He also denied concerns that terrorist group Al Qaeda could inject members into the fight to oust embattled Libyan leader Gadhafi.

“This is the propaganda that Gadhafi is trying to spread and to frighten the West, nothing else...No elements of Al Qaeda are actually running and fighting along the revolutionaries there,” he said.

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