The youngest son of Gaddafi was killed in a NATO airstrike on his home Saturday evening, along with three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren, but the Libyan leader escaped unharmed, the Libyan government said Sunday.
Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, 29, was hosting a gathering of family and friends when three missiles struck his house just after 8 p.m., causing huge explosions that could be felt more than two miles away. The Libyan leader and his wife, Safiyah, were also there, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said, describing the attack as an assassination attempt.
A U.S. official said Saturday evening that U.S. intelligence agencies had not yet been able to confirm the report, while NATO said it had carried out a “precision strike” against “a known command and control building.”
In Brussels Sunday, NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said the Libyan government’s announcement that Gaddafi’s relatives were killed in the airstrike late Saturday remained unconfirmed, AP reported.
“We targeted a military command and control building with a precision strike,” Romero told the AP. “It was not targeted against any individual. It was a military target, clearly linked to the Gaddafi’s regime’s systematic attacks on the civilian population.”
A Russian lawmaker who often serves as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin’s views on foreign affairs was less diplomatic, according to the AP report.
“More and more facts indicate that the aim of the anti-Libyan coalition is the physical destruction of Gaddafi,” Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, was quoted as saying.
Kosachyov called on Western leaders to make their position on the airstrikes clear.
“I am totally perplexed by the total silence from the presidents of the United States, France, the leaders of other Western countries,” Kosachyov said in an interview, according to the Interfax news agency. “We have the right to expect their immediate, comprehensive and objective assessment of the coalition’s actions.”
Russia abstained in the March vote in the U.N. Security Council that authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians.
Ibrahim said the attack was neither permitted under international law nor morally justifiable, and that it contravened NATO’s mandate under Security Resolution 1973 to protect Libyan civilians. Intelligence about Gaddafi’s whereabouts or plans must have been leaked to NATO, he said.
“We ask the world to look into this carefully, because what we have now is the law of the jungle,” he said. “How is this helping in the protection of civilians?’’