Journalist casualties in Libya during Nato raids

Libya on Saturday told state television that three journalists were killed in a Nato air strike and that the murder of the rebels’ army chief proved al-Qaeda was instigating the country’s armed revolt.

“Three of our colleagues were murdered and 15 injured while performing their professional duty as Libyan journalists,” said Khaled Basilia, director of al-Jamahiriya television’s English-language service.

He branded the air strike as “an act of international terrorism and in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

Earlier, Nato in Brussels announced it had carried out precision strikes on three Libyan television transmitters to silence “terror broadcasts” by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

“Nato conducted a precision air strike that disabled three ground-based Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes in Tripoli … with the intent of degrading Gaddafi’s use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them,” the alliance said.

“In light of our “[UN] mandate to protect civilian lives, we had to act. After due consideration and careful planning to minimise the risks of casualties or long-term damage to television transmission capabilities, Nato performed the strike,” he said.

Basilia said the channel posed no threat to civilians. “We are not a military target, we are not commanders in the army and we do not pose threat to civilians,” he insisted.

“We are performing our job as journalists, representing what we wholeheartedly believe is the reality of Nato’s aggression and the violence in Libya,” Basilia said.

Motive remains unclear
Libyan rebels have probed the killing of their army chief, General Abdel Fattah Younes.

“The NTC has appointed an investigative committee and we will publish all the facts of this investigation,” said Ali Tarhuni, who handles economic affairs for the rebel National Transitional Council.

Younes was the faithful right-hand man of Gaddafi, participating in the 1969 coup that brought him to power, before defecting to the rebels fighting to oust the strongman since February.

Tarhuni said Younes’s bullet-ridden and partly burned body was found early on Friday on Benghazi’s outskirts but that the NTC had received news of his death late on Thursday when the head of a militia behind the crime confessed.

“The head of the militia is imprisoned now,” Tarhuni said, adding that some of the perpetrators, who he said belonged to Jirah Ibn al-Obeidi brigade were yet to be incarcerated and the motive for the killing remained unclear.

‘Explosions shook the Libyan capital’
Tripoli pinned the blame squarely on al-Qaeda and argued the killing exposed the impotence of the NTC.

“By this act, al-Qaeda wanted to mark out its presence and its influence in this region” of eastern Libya controlled by the rebels, regime spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli.

“The other members of the NTC knew about it but could not react because they are terrified of al-Qaeda,” he added.

An AFP journalist in Tripoli said a dozen explosions shook the Libyan capital on Friday night — the latest of many blasts in a city which has been targeted almost daily by Nato air raids.

The alliance, in its daily update, said warplanes also hit 13 military targets in the strategic oil town of Brega and 12 in Zliten, west of the rebel-held city of Misrata, among a total of 56 strike sorties on Friday.

Younes’s death, and that of two officers with him, left the rebels facing a military leadership crisis on the same day they made fresh gains in the western Nafusa mountain range.

The United States (US) urged the rebels to stand united and stay focused on ousting Gaddafi and blamed the veteran Libyan leader for creating the conditions that led to the murder.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said the rebels should “work both diligently and transparently to ensure the unity of the Libyan opposition”.

Killed as a traitor
The assassination of Younes, Libya’s former interior minister, sparked speculation he had been killed as a traitor by one of the two warring camps or as a form of revenge for his past role in crushing the Islamists.

A senior opposition figure in the rebel capital of Benghazi accused Gaddafi of playing a role in the murder in an attempt to press rebels to back off from Brega.

Younes was killed as he returned to Benghazi from the front line near Brega on the orders of the NTC. “Whoever took part in this crime will be brought to justice no matter who they are,” Tarhuni said.

The unity of rebels in the east — where there are more than 30 brigades — is crucial for the many Western powers which have recognised the NTC as the sole legitimate authority in Libya. – Sapa,AFP

Advertisting

R1.1-billion land claim “captured”

This story was produced in partnership with Pulitzer Center. Details of the land claim settlement for MalaMala, one...

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...

Failure to investigate TRC cases during the Mandela era delayed...

Counsel for late trade unionist Neil Aggett’s family decries the slow pace of instituting an inquest into his death

SANDF colonel accused of swindling colleagues in UN business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal
Advertising

Press Releases

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.