|This photo taken on May 1, 2011 shows the damage of the house of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air raid during a tour organized by the Libyan government in the area of Gargur in Tripoli, Libya. Sayf al-Arab Kadhafi, embattled Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s youngest son, was killed in an airstrike on Saturday, a government spokesman said. (Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)
Angry protesters in Libya attacked the embassies of the United Kingdom and Italy on Sunday, angered over the NATO missile strike that killed one of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren
The Italian Foreign Ministry said its embassy and several others in the Libyan capital have been damaged by the protesters. The allied countries accused the Gadhafi regime of failing to take measures to protect foreign missions.
Fires broke out at both embassies, leaving the British mission especially damaged.
Other embassies are also said to have been attacked.
In response, the U.K. has expelled its ambassador from Libya and condemned the attacks on the embassy in Tripoli.
The United Nations also says it is evacuating its international staff from the city following the latest spate of violence.
The protests and attacks followed a NATO missile strike late Saturday that levelled a building in suburban Tripoli — narrowly missing Gadhafi but killing four of his family including his 29-year-old son, Seif al-Arab.
The strike prompted cheers from the country’s embattled rebels and condemnations from its allies. Libyan officials described it as an assassination attempt and a violation of international law, describing the Gadhafi family was at leisure before the attack.
Seif al-Arab “was playing and talking with his father and mother and his nieces and nephews and other visitors,” said Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim. Also killed were three of Gadhafi’s grandchildren, all under 12.
“The leader himself is in good health,” added Ibrahim. Gadhafi’s wife, Safiya, was also unharmed.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and a Russian government spokesman both spoke out against the attack, alleging that NATO is out to kill Gadhafi.
“More and more facts indicate that the aim of the anti-Libyan coalition is the physical destruction of Gadhafi,” said Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee. Russia abstained in the March vote in the U.N. Security Council that authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians.
NATO officials appeared to side-step questions about the attack. The alliance acknowledged it had struck a “command and control building,” but insisted all its targets are military in nature and linked to Gadhafi’s systematic attacks on the population, in keeping with the UN resolution that in March opened the door for western military intervention in Libya.
The commander of the operation, Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, said he was aware of the reported deaths and that he regretted “all loss of life, specially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict.”
Moscow was increasingly concerned about the fatalities among Libya’s civilian population, including the death of three grandsons and the youngest son of Muammar Gaddafi, the Russian Foreign Ministry further said in a statement on Sunday.
Russia thus doubts the statement by the NATO coalition which says NATO’s air strike are not targeting Libyan leader Gaddafi, the statement said.
“Moscow perceives with growing alarm the reports about victims among civilians. The statements by the coalition members that the airstrikes against Libya are not aimed at physically destroying Muammar Gaddafi and his family members cause serious doubts,” it reads.
The Foreign Ministry said the “disproportionate use of force” in Libya has led to devastating consequences and death of innocent people.
Therefore, the ministry once again called for “strict adherence to the provisions of the international resolutions regarding the Libyan conflict, an immediate cease-fire and the start of a political settlement process without any preconditions.”
Earlier Sunday, Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the State Duma’s international committee, said in an interview with local media that the NATO operation in Libya which killed Gaddafi’s son and grandsons has gone beyond the framework of the UN Security Council mandate and it was in fact a major interference in Libya’s internal affairs.
“More and more facts indicate that the purpose of the coalition is the physical destruction of Gaddafi,” the Russian parliamentarian was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying.
“Ongoing NATO airstrikes on Libya represent a form of new colonialism and the Libya crisis risks evolving into a prolonged conflict with even more bloodshed and chaos”, a South African expert on international affairs says.
NATO’s operations in Libya could not continue forever, Anna Alwes, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said in an interview with Xinhua. “The world’s nations knew this well and they must be careful in not pushing it too far.”
The Western powers justified their intervention with allegations that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi killed many civilians, Alwes said. But “are we sure there were really so many thousands of deaths as the Western media has reported?” she asked.
One month after NATO nations launched military operations in Libya, pro- and anti-government forces in the country are still locked in a seesaw battle.
Echoing views from many other fellow experts from around the world, Alwes believes the Libya crisis now risks turning into a prolonged conflict.
“I see no immediate solution to the conflict between NATO forces and the Libyan rebels on one side, and Muammar Gaddafi on the other. The ongoing civil war is fated to become an internal cancer that will destroy territorial unity and lead to a partition,” she said.
Elsewhere in Libya, rebels cheered the incident as a sign of the increasing pressure on Gadhafi as the country’s uprising drags into its fourth month. Rebels honked horns and sped through the western city of Misrata, which pro-government forces have besieged and subjected to random shelling for two months, killing hundreds.
“Gadhafi was not far away, meaning he’s not safe,” said one resident. “It’s just like our children getting hit here. Now his children are getting hit there.”
But within hours, government forces shelled the port town, signaling that the regime is not changing its approach to the rebels. Loyalists, who last week sought to cut Misrata off from the outside world by mining the harbour, shelled the port on Sunday as a Maltese ship was unloading relief supplies.
The airstrike and renewed shelling of Misrata come shortly after Gadhafi called for a mutual cease-fire in a pre-dawn speech early on Saturday.
Seif al-Arab Gadhafi was one of the youngest of Gadhafi’s seven sons and brother of the better-known Seif al-Islam Gadhafi. He lived, studied and partied for many years in Germany where he had several run-ins with the law including a 2007 investigation for possession of illegal weapons. He returned to Libya in February at the start of the uprising.
AP Xinhua and CTV.News