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NATO strike kills Kadafi son, Libyan official says

Killed were Seif al Arab Kadafi, 29, and three of Moammar Kadafi's grandchildren, a government spokesman says. He also says the Libyan leader and his wife were in the residence at the time but survived.

May 01, 2011|By Patrick J. McDonnell and David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times

Turkey, Germany and several other alliance members are deeply worried that NATO is moving toward a war aimed at overthrowing the Kadafi government, a goal that they insist was not authorized by the U.N. resolution allowing military action to protect civilians in Libya.

Confirmation of the deaths of Kadafi's family members could also deepen questions about NATO's tactics. The decision to step up targeting of Kadafi's command facilities came after alliance airstrikes had failed over more than a month to halt shelling of the city of Misurata and other opposition-held areas by Kadafi forces.

The NATO officer insisted that the alliance was seeking to minimize the threat to civilians from its attacks and defended the choice of target.

"Every target we attack is evaluated to make sure we do the minimum damage to civilians," the NATO officer said. "We know to a great extent how the chain of command worked and how they are controlling their attacks on innocent civilians. This compound we attacked is a building that is involved in the command and control of attacks on civilians."

The Libyan government, meanwhile, insists that the strikes on Tripoli are assassination attempts that violate international law.

In the rebel capital of Benghazi in the east, celebratory gunshots erupted when word of the younger Kadafi's death was reported. Overjoyed men fired bursts of automatic weapons and set off explosives. Tracer fire filled the night sky.

Some rebel officials publicly expressed doubt about the authenticity of the report, saying it could have been broadcast to generate sympathy and raise new doubts about the NATO strikes. One spokesman told the Al Jazeera satellite network that, if the report is true, Moammar Kadafi was responsible for the deaths through his actions.

Kadafi earlier had called on NATO to agree to a cease-fire, using language that seemed more conciliatory than some of his earlier appeals. But NATO and rebel officials rejected his request and demanded that he stop attacks on civilians.

"Negotiate with us and we'll negotiate with you," Kadafi said in a rambling address early Saturday. "You are the aggressors. Why are you attacking us? Why are you killing our children?"

In 1986, a U.S. airstrike on Kadafi's compound killed his adopted daughter. The attack by the Reagan administration was in response to a bombing at a German discotheque that left two U.S. servicemen dead. American officials blamed Libya for the disco bombing.

patrick.mcdonnell@latimes.com

david.cloud@latimes.com

McDonnell reported from Benghazi and Cloud from Washington.

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