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Libya says NATO airstrike killed civilians

June 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
NATO says an airstrike west of the Libyan capital of Tripoli went astray and may have killed civilians.

Libya's government said the early Monday airstrike on a large family compound belonging to a close associate of Moammar Gadhafi has killed at least 15 people, including three children.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said alliance bombs struck the compound belonging to Khoweildi al-Hamidi outside the city of Surman.

Al-Hamidi is a longtime regime insider who took part in the 1969 coup that brought Gadhafi to power. He reportedly commanded a battalion that crushed rebels in the western city of Zawiya in March, and his daughter is married to one of Gadhafi's sons, Saadi.

Ibrahim said al-Hamidi escaped the airstrikes unharmed but that three children, two of them al-Hamidi's grandchildren, were among the 15 people killed. Officials said he was inside a still-intact building at the time of the strike.

Reporters were taken to the walled compound that was hit, where at least two buildings had been blasted to rubble.

Gadhafi's regime has repeatedly accused NATO of targeting civilians in an attempt to rally support against the alliance's intervention in the country's civil war. NATO has repeatedly insisted it tries to avoid killing civilians.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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