LONDON — Libya's Foreign Ministry sought today to distance Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadafi from a statement that last week's Rome and Vienna airport massacres were "heroic missions."
The ministry also said in a statement broadcast over Libyan radio that U.S. and Israeli statements on the attacks provided evidence of plans for "joint aggression" against Libya.
The official Libyan news agency Jana defended the Rome and Vienna attacks as "heroic missions" in a dispatch Sunday that drew sharp criticism from the Western press.
But today's broadcast said, "The biased imperialist Western media have rushed to involve the name of the brother commander of the revolution (Kadafi) in a statement issued by a news agency which deals in events and news just like any other news agency in the world."
The Foreign Ministry statement also criticized anti-Libyan statements by the State Department in Washington and by the Israeli prime minister. It said they were evidence of plans for "joint aggression against the Jamahiriyah (Libya) by the American military machine and Israel."
The statement said Libya did not need to restate its position on international terrorism, and added: "It denounces and rejects every action that harms the innocent."
But, it said world opinion should bear in mind that international disregard for the Palestinian cause "prompts those whose cause it is to the most violent methods."
The Libyan statement was issued amid growing anger in Vienna and Rome over the JANA statement Sunday.
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Blecha described the JANA report as "disgraceful and scandalous." Foreign Minister Leopold Gratz in a statement said anyone who described the attacks as heroic "placed himself outside the international community of states which recognize basic rights to life, freedom and inviolability of the person."
Prime Minister Bettino Craxi of Italy Monday said JANA's terminology revealed "a fanatic and bloodthirsty face without veils" and added that "there can be no heroism in . . . a massacre of innocent civilians and unarmed people."
Craxi made his statement after being informed that passports used by gunmen in Vienna had been confiscated from Tunisian migrant workers in Libya earlier this year.