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Nato to continue Libya operation

Desk Report: Nato will continue its bombings of Libya, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.

‘Nato will continue its mission, because if we stop, an unspecified number of civilians would lose their lives,’ Rasmussen said.

Libyan government officials have said that at least five people died in a Nato air strike Sunday that hit a three-storey house in the city. Nato is investigating the incident.

Rasmussen said Nato personnel would ensure everything was done to prevent civilian deaths in the future. The organisation admitted to hitting mistaken targets in the past.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini had spoken for a possible halt in hostilities to allow humanitarian aid through to people. France, however, opposed such possibility.

On June 1, Nato extended the Libya operation until late September.

Libya has been rocked with protests against long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi since mid-February. The international military operation began March 19 following a UN resolution.

Meanwhile, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said he did not fear death and defiantly vowed to fight “to the beyond,” as Nato insisted there would be no let-up in its air war despite Italian calls for a cessation.

“We will resist and the battle will continue to the beyond, until you’re wiped out. But we will not be finished,” Gaddafi said in an audio message broadcast on Libyan television late on Wednesday.

“There’s no longer any agreement after you killed our children and our grandchildren… You (the West) can move back,” the strongman said in homage to his comrade Khuwildi Hemidi, several members of whose family were killed Monday in Nato raids on his residence.

“We are not frightened. We are not trying to live or escape,” Gaddafi said, denouncing what we called a crusade against a Muslim country targeting civilians and children.

Nato has acknowledged its warplanes early on Monday hit Sorman west of Tripoli but insisted the target was military, a precision air strike against a “high-level” command and control node.

Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said 15 people, including three children, were killed in the attack, which he slammed as a “cowardly terrorist act which cannot be justified.”

Ibrahim said the attack was on an estate belonging to Hemidi, a veteran comrade of Gaddafi.

“By what right do you target politicians and their families?” Gaddafi asked in the message. He claimed that Hemidi’s office in Tripoli had been bombed four times.

“They were looking for him because he’s a hero. When they didn’t find him in his office they wanted to kill him in his home,” Gaddafi added, calling on the United Nations to send observers to confirm that the Nato target was a civilian site and not a military target.

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