TRIPOLI (BNO NEWS) — A NATO airstrike in a residential area of Tripoli on Saturday killed the youngest son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, officials said, adding that three of his grandchildren were also killed.
The NATO-led airstrike happened at around 7 p.m. local time in the Bab al-Azizya neighborhood of Tripoli, destroying a building where Gaddafi was staying along with relatives and friends.
NATO said it was targeting a ‘known command and control’ building in the neighborhood, without giving specific details. “All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Gaddafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas,” said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector. He added that NATO does not target individuals.
According to a statement released by the coalition, the strike in Tripoli on Saturday was part of a strategy to disrupt and destroy the command and control of forces which have been attacking Libyan civilians.
“I am aware of unconfirmed media reports that some of Gaddafi’s family members may have been killed,” Bouchard said. “We regret all loss of life, especially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict.”
But a Libyan government spokesman condemned the airstrike as a ‘direct attempt’ to assassinate Gaddafi. He confirmed that the Libyan leader and his wife were inside the compound at the time but that they escaped unharmed.
Gaddafi’s youngest son, 29-year-old Saif al-Arab al-Gaddafi, was killed in the attack, the spokesman said. He added that three grandchildren of Gaddafi were also killed, but did not give their names.
In Benghazi, the rebel capital, large celebrations erupted upon the news that one of Gaddafi’s sons had been killed. Celebratory gunfire could be heard, but some rebels demanded proof to confirm his death.