19 Jun 2011

NATO admits mistaken attack on rebels

2:05 pm on 19 June 2011

NATO has admitted its aircraft mistakenly attacked rebel forces in Libya during an air strike on Friday.

It says it hit a column of military vehicles, including tanks, near the oil town of Brega in eastern Libya. The rebel convoy, it says, was in an area where forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had been operating.

Earlier, the transitional rebel administration said it was running out of money because donors' pledges have not materialised.

Speaking in a rare interview in Benghazi, oil and finance minister Ali Tarhouni said they had no oil supply because all crude oil production had come to a standstill due to damage caused by the fighting.

Most of Libya's oil installations are in the rebel-held east .

Mr Tarhouni accused the West failing to keep its promises to deliver urgent financial aid. He said western nations either don't understand or don't care about the plight of the Libyan people.

The rebels have also denied suggestions by a Russian envoy that they had been negotiating with Colonel Gaddafi. Mahmoud Jibril, who is responsible for foreign affairs, said there had never been any talks.

Defiant speech by Gaddafi

Meanwhile, Libyan state television has broadcast a defiant speech it said Colonel Gaddafi made by telephone, addressing his supporters in Tripoli's Green Square.

He vowed to defeat NATO and never to leave the country.

"This is the first time they are facing an armed nation of millions," he shouted. "They will be defeated. The alliance will be defeated.

"We are in our country and we are determined to stay and defend it. We are staying, we are staying. Let them even use nuclear bombs."

Col Gaddafi called the rebels cowards and "sons of dogs" who are relying on money from the "donkeys of Qatar and the donkeys of the Gulf".