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Gadhafi Says NATO Cannot Reach Him

Muammar Gaddafi speaks at a Tripoli hotel in this still image from Libyan TV ,released May 11, 2011
Muammar Gaddafi speaks at a Tripoli hotel in this still image from Libyan TV ,released May 11, 2011

Libyan state television has broadcast an audio message from Moammar Gadhafi in which the Libyan leader assures his people that he is alive and in a place where NATO bombs could not reach him.

Mr. Gadhafi's message was broadcast late Friday after Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said there were unconfirmed reports that the Libyan leader is "probably" wounded after weeks of NATO air strikes in the country.

Frattini told reporters that he received word from the Catholic bishop in Tripoli, Giovanni Martinelli, that Mr. Gadhafi was likely wounded and has fled the city.

A Libyan government spokesman called that report "nonsense."

NATO air strikes have hit a number of Libyan military and command control positions in Tripoli, including Mr. Gadhafi's compound. The Libyan leader reportedly escaped one recent attack that Libyan authorities say targeted him. NATO has denied targeting the Libyan leader.

In Washington Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama met with visiting NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to discuss the coalition's operations in Libya.

Separately, a delegation from Libya's opposition Transitional National Council met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. The TNC's Minister of Finance and Oil Ali Tarhouni said after the meeting that the opposition leadership appreciates the U.S. assistance, but wants political recognition and access to frozen assets of the Gadhafi government.

Mr. Obama's national security adviser Tom Donilon is scheduled to meet with the visiting delegation later Friday.

The Libyan opposition is seeking more sophisticated weaponry and basic supplies, such as food, medicine and fuel.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says he will seek arrest warrants next week for three people considered responsible for crimes against humanity in Libya.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo did not reveal the names of the suspects in his statement Friday, but the Libyan leader is expected to top the list. Those charged will face accusations of murder and persecution.

The ICC prosecutor said investigators have collected "extensive and solid evidence" after 30 missions to 11 countries, more than 50 interviews and the review of videos and photographs that show "widespread and systematic attacks" against Libya's civilian population by the country's security forces.

Since February, Colonel Gadhafi's forces have carried out a brutal crackdown against anti-government demonstrators.

NATO is enforcing a U.N. Security Council resolution to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo on Libya. There were reports of more coalition air strikes Friday. It is unclear if there were any casualties.

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

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