Defiant after strikes, Khadafy taunts NATO
Speech is his first since bombing of his compounds
TRIPOLI, Libya — Taunting NATO, Moammar Khadafy said yesterday in a defiant audio recording that he is alive despite a series of airstrikes by NATO.
The recording was broadcast after the Libyan government accused NATO of killing 11 Muslim clerics with an airstrike on a disputed eastern oil town.
Khadafy had appeared on state television but had not been heard speaking since a NATO attack on his Tripoli compound two weeks ago, which officials said killed one of his sons and three grandchildren.
In a brief recording played yesterday on Libyan television, Khadafy said he wanted to assure Libyans concerned about a strike this week on his compound in Tripoli.
“I tell the coward crusaders — I live in a place where you can’t get to and kill me,’’ he said. “I live in the hearts of millions.’’
NATO shrugged off the statement.
“We are not targeting him, our targets are solely military,’’ alliance spokeswoman Carmen Romero said in Brussels.
Khadafy referred to a NATO airstrike on Thursday that targeted his Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, saying it had killed “three innocent journalist-civilians.’’
Hours after Khadafy ’s minute-long speech, four explosions — most likely a NATO strike — were heard in Tripoli.
Government spokesman Ibrahim Uthman said the strikes targeted the country’s Agriculture Ministry. But the same building was targeted days ago and, at the time, residents said it was a government intelligence building.
Reporters could not immediately verify the information. They may only leave their hotel in the company of government officials.
On Thursday reporters were shown the airstrike damage by Libyan officials, including one who said Khadafy and his family had moved away from the compound some time ago.
One missile appeared to have targeted some sort of underground bunker at the compound.