NATO says 'military targets' hit, not civilian area

25th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

NATO on Saturday responded to Libyan claims that alliance forces had hit a civilian area in Brega, killing 15 people, by saying its forces had hit "legitimate military targets."

"NATO did target buildings in an abandoned area of Brega. These were legitimate military targets that were hit," an official with the Naples-headquartered alliance mission in Libya told AFP.

"We took a long time to watch the area and make sure. Meticulous planning went into this.

"We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties but can't confirm the validity of the claim," the official added.

Libyan state TV said a bakery and a restaurant had been among the sites hit, "creating 15 martyrs and more than 20 wounded, among them regular clients of those places."

The TV report did not say when the attack had taken place.

State news agency Jana said the raid had taken place on Saturday, and spoke of five other "citizens" killed in raids the day before.

The NATO official added that "since midnight (2200 GMT on Friday), we have not struck any targets in Brega," a key refinery town some 800 kilometres (500 miles) east of Tripoli and 240 kilometres southwest of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

In London Nick Pope, a British military spokesman for the chief of defence staff said the attacks followed "sustained and intensive surveillance which had confirmed the use of the various buildings by regime troops and the absence of normal civilian patterns of life in the surrounding areas."

RAF Tornados had hit "a radar station, three command and control centres located in buildings which had been commandeered by the regime, and a warehouse complex used to stockpile military supplies," he said.

The Naples-based Operation Unified Protector's military spokesman Mike Bracken underlined to AFP: "We take great care to avoid civilian casualties, and even at the last minute we will divert weapons to ensure civilians are not injured."

© 2011 AFP

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