By Margaret Besheer
A Libyan government spokesman says Moammar Gadhafi’s youngest son and three of his grandchildren have been killed in a NATO airstrike, but that the leader and his wife were unharmed in what he said was a “direct operation” intended to kill Mr. Gadhafi.
Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters that the son who was killed is 29-year-old Saif-Al-Arab Gadhafi. He is the sixth son of the Libyan leader and a brother to the better known Saif al-Islam Gadhafi.
He said the strike on the house in Tripoli Saturday also wounded several people. Journalists taken to the site of the home reported seeing extensive damage.
Ibrahim denounced the airstrike as a deliberate attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader.
The spokesman said, “This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country. This is not permitted by international law; it is not permitted by any moral code or principle. If people claim that they want to protect civilians, we have again and again declared that we are ready for negotiation, ready for roadmaps for peace, ready for political transition periods, ready for elections, ready for referendum.”
Ibrahim said NATO and the West do not care to test Libyan government statements, only to steal Libyan freedom and oil.
NATO said it had staged airstrikes in Tripoli Saturday, but could not confirm that Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi and the three young grandchildren were killed. An official denied targeting Mr. Gadhafi or his family.
As word of the incident spread across the country, Libyans in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi fired celebratory shots into the air and honked car horns.
Other airstrikes in recent days have hit buildings while Mr. Gadhafi was nearby. Libya says NATO air forces bombed a site near the national broadcast offices early Saturday while the Libyan leader was inside delivering an address to the nation. Last Monday, a NATO airstrike in Tripoli destroyed a building in the complex where Mr. Gadhafi lives.
NATO says it targeted a communications headquarters used to coordinate attacks against civilians.
Earlier Saturday, NATO rejected an offer from Mr. Gadhafi for negotiations to end the conflict. A NATO official said the organization wants to see “actions not words,” and that the Libyan government has announced cease-fires several times before only to continue attacking civilians. Libyan rebels have also rejected Mr. Gadhafi’s call for talks saying the time for compromise has passed.