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11 Libyan Muslim clerics killed in NATO strike: spokesman

by Staff Writers
Tripoli (AFP) May 13, 2011
Eleven Libyan Muslim clerics were killed in a NATO air strike, a government spokesman told a news conference Friday at which an imam called for 11,000 Western and Gulf citizens to be killed in revenge.

"So far, the death toll is 11 martyrs of the imams" who had gathered in Brega to the east of Tripoli, Mussa Ibrahim said, putting the number of wounded people at 50, including five in critical condition.

The imams' "aim was to call upon their brothers and sisters in the eastern part of the country and everywehere to join them in the call of peace and dialogue in Libya," he said, referring to rebels seeking strongman Moamer Kadhafi's ouster and who are predominantly based in the east.

"But in the early hours they were attacked by the barbaric, inhumane NATO -- they were hit in their sleep," he said.

Later in the news conference an imam identified as Nureddin al-Mijrah called for 1,000 people from a list of Western and Gulf countries to be killed for each of the dead imams.

"This will have a very bad consequence as it will push us towards fighting back in all Islam against those who are humiliating our religion and our nation," he said of the Brega strike.

We "call upon the Muslims all around the world to take revenge for our brothers who died today. For every man we should take down one thousand men ... from France, Italy, Denmark, Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates," he said.

Ibrahim said before Mijrah's remarks that his views were his own and not those of the government, but he was still part of the speaker lineup at the government-organised news conference.

Earlier, state television put the toll from the Brega strike at 16 "civilians" killed, citing a military source.

Al-Libya television showed footage of at least seven apparently dead men it said were in Brega, and also said that in addition to those killed, there were "dozens of wounded" from the strike "last night."

An internatioanl coalition began carrying out strikes on forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on March 19. NATO took command of operations over Libya on March 31.

Massive protests in February -- inspired by revolts that toppled long-time autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt -- escalated into war when Kadhafi's troops fired on demonstrators and protesters seized several towns.

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