News / Africa

Libyan Government Blames NATO for Civilian Deaths

In this photo taken on a government-organized tour a child walks past the rubble of a university building in Zlitan, Libya, August 4, 2011
In this photo taken on a government-organized tour a child walks past the rubble of a university building in Zlitan, Libya, August 4, 2011

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The Libyan government is accusing NATO of bombing civilian targets in Zlitan, a western town that has been the scene of recent clashes between pro-government and rebel forces.

The government made the accusations through its state-controlled television station on Thursday, a day after officials denied rebel claims that opposition fighters had gained control of the town.

The French News Agency reports that Libyan officials led journalists on a tour of Zlitan Thursday.  Government officials say a NATO airstrike on a home in the town killed three family members, two of them children.

In a separate development, a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi claims to have forged an alliance with an Islamist leader in an attempt to divide the country's opposition. The New York Times quotes Saif al-Islam Gadhafi as saying he had held talks with Ali Sallabi.

According to the Times, Ali Sallabi has acknowledged talking to Gadhafi, but denies the existence of any alliance - and says his group still supports calls for Libyan democracy without the Gadhafis.

Also Thursday, a tanker operated by the Libyan government arrived in rebel-held Benghazi on Thursday.  Rebels claimed they had seized the vessel from government forces.

NATO officials say they cleared the ship on Wednesday and allowed it to proceed to the rebel-held port.

NATO is operating under a U.N. mandate that calls for it to take measures other than occupation to protect civilians and civilian areas from attacks by  Gadhafi's forces.

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

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