Toddlers among five dead in 'NATO raid' on Tripoli

Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim accused the Western alliance of "deliberately targeting civilians," insisting there were no military targets anywhere near the residential neighbourhood of the capital that was hit.

He demanded that NATO end its "aggression" to pave the way for dialogue, after organisations including the the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations highlighted the importance of "accelerating" political efforts to end a conflict now in its fifth month.

Journalists were taken to the Al-Arada district of Tripoli before 1 am (local time) yesterday to see rescue teams helped by bystanders desperately searching for survivors among the wreckage of a two-storey block of flats.

An AFP correspondent saw two bodies pulled from the rubble.

Journalists were then taken to a Tripoli hospital where they were shown the bodies of a woman and two toddlers that officials said were members of the same family and had died in the raid.

Ibrahim said he feared the death toll would rise as the building was home to at least 15 people.

There was no immediate word from NATO on the alleged air strike but if confirmed the civilian deaths would be an embarrassment for the alliance which has been leading the bombing campaign under a UN mandate to protect civilians.

"It is another night of massacre, terror and horror at the hands of NATO," the Libyan government spokesman charged.

Western leaders "are morally and legally responsible for these murders," Ibrahim said.
"This is not propaganda. It is not something that we can stage."

Libyan officials has been on the defensive over their credibility after they showed journalists a little girl being treated in hospital two weeks ago and said she had been wounded in a NATO air strike. A member of the medical staff said she had been injured in a traffic accident.

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