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Vandals attack embassies in Libya after airstrike


Updated: May 2, 2011, 7:25 AM IST
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Vandals attack embassies in Libya after airstrike
Britain expelled the Libyan ambassador to London as a response to the attack on its embassy in Tripoli.

Tripoli: Vandals attacked the Italian and British embassies in the Libyan capital on Sunday, hours after Muammar Gaddafi escaped a NATO missile strike that a government spokesman said killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren.

Britain responded to the attack on its embassy in Tripoli, which left the building badly burned, by announcing it was expelling the Libyan ambassador to London.

NATO's attack on a blast wall-ringed Gaddafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli late on Saturday signalled escalating pressure on the Libyan leader who has tried to crush an armed rebellion that erupted in mid-February.

Libyan officials denounced the strike as an assassination attempt and a violation of international law.

The bombing also drew criticism from Russia, which cast doubt on NATO's assertion that the alliance is not targeting Gaddafi or members of his family.

"Statements by participants in the coalition that the strikes on Libya are not aimed at the physical destruction of Gaddafi and members of his family raise serious doubts," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

It also said the "disproportionate use of force is leading to detrimental consequences and the death of innocent civilians." The ministry called for "an immediate cease-fire and the beginning of a political settlement process without

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Gaddafi ally, also condemned the strike.

NATO acknowledged that it had struck a "command and control building," but insisted all its targets are military in nature and linked to Gaddafi's systematic attacks on the population.

"It was not targeted against any individual," NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said today, adding the report of the deaths remained unconfirmed.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, without confirming fatalities, also told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the strike was in line with the UN mandate to prevent "a loss of civilian life by targeting Gaddafi's war-making machine."

A NATO warplane bombed a residential complex taking up an entire block in Tripoli's Garghour neighbourhood, which is also home to several foreign embassies. The blast killed Gaddafi's second youngest son, Seif al-Arab, when the Libyan leader and his wife, Safiya, were inside, said Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.

Seif al-Arab, 29, and three of Gaddafi's grandchildren, all younger than 12, were killed. Ibrahim initially said Seif al-Arab was the youngest.

First Published: May 2, 2011, 7:25 AM IST
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