NATO chief dimisses Libyan bombing claims
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday dismissed accusations by Moamer Kadhafi's regime that more than 1,100 civilians were killed in NATO's bombing campaign in Libya, saying great care was being taken to avoid civilian casualties.
"I completely dismiss these accusations," Rasmussen told journalists in The Hague, where he met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during his first official visit to the Netherlands as NATO's secretary general.
"We are extremely careful and cautious in identifying military targets and avoid civilians casualties," said Rasmussen, who added the military campaign in Libya would continue "for however long it takes", for its UN mandate to be fulfilled.
Rasmussen was responding to statements by Kadhafi's regime that it was seeking to prosecute him in Libyan courts for "war crimes" over the alliance's air strikes.
Libyan prosecutor general Mohamed Zekri Mahjubi earlier Thursday told reporters in Tripoli that as secretary general Rasmussen "is responsible for the actions of this organisation which has attacked an unarmed people, killing 1,108 civilians and wounding 4,537 others in the bombardment of Tripoli and other cities and villages".
Apart from war crimes, Mahjubi accused Rasmussen of trying to kill Kadhafi, "deliberate aggression against innocent civilians" and of "the murder of children".
Also, the NATO chief stood accused of "trying to overthrow the Libyan regime" and replace it with a rebel movement under its control to "take over the wealth" of oil-rich Libya.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Kadhafi for crimes against humanity in the crackdown by his forces on pro-democracy protests that erupted in mid-February.
© 2011 AFP