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Libya

Nato admits it caused civilian deaths

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Nato acknowledged late on Sunday it was responsible for civilian deaths in Tripoli, after Libyan officials showed reporters five bodies, two of them of toddlers, whom they said were among nine people killed in a "barbaric" air strike.

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An alliance statement released in Brussels said "Nato acknowledges civilian casualties in Tripoli strike", during action targeting a missile site.

"It appears that one weapon did not strike the intended target and that there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties," the statement added.

The admission that the civilian deaths were caused by Nato is an embarrassment for the alliance, which has led the bombing campaign under a UN mandate to protect civilians.

Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim accused the Western alliance of "deliberately targeting civilians," insisting there were no military targets anywhere near the residential area of Tripoli that was hit early on Sunday.

Officials from the rebel-held east of the country instead blamed Kadhafi for the deaths, accusing him of deliberately using schools and mosques to stash arms.

Meanwhile, calls are increasing for a negotiated solution to the conflict, as the fighting on the ground degenerates into a bloody stalemate.

The rebels said on Sunday they have not yet received any of the roughly one billion dollars promised by international donors earlier this month.

Senior rebel leader Mahmud Jibril is to begin a two-day visit to China on Tuesday, Beijing announced, as it tries to protect its substantial economic interests in Libya.

China, which abstained in the UN vote authorising military action, has already held two confirmed meetings with rebel leaders.

 

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