Thursday 14 December 2017

Gaddafi puts children on his roof to act as 'human shields'

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has installed a children's playground on the roof of his Tripoli compound.

A civilian volunteer of the rebel army clears an obstacle course during training in Benghazi yesterday.
A civilian volunteer of the rebel army clears an obstacle course during training in Benghazi yesterday.

Andrew Gilligan in Tripoli

Forty feet away from the crater made last Thursday by a Nato bomb, boys and girls, unwittingly acting as "human shields" were playing on a roundabout shaped like a giant tea set.

We had been brought deep inside Gaddafi's leadership compound, which takes up at least a full square mile of Tripoli city centre, to witness what the regime called "Nato's madness" in attacking women and children.

But the trip succeeded only in showing that if anyone has put civilians in harm's way, it is the Libyan government. Also near the top of the bunker, which is covered with grass, civilians have been brought to live in tents, ready to sacrifice themselves for their leader.


"This is a place of recreation, a public park where the people of Tripoli often come," insisted Moussa Ibrahim, the government spokesman.

But this "public park" is reached by passing through four concentric rings of 15-foot blast walls, checkpoints and sentry towers. Armed guards stand at the perimeter, moving in on any passer-by who might mistake it for somewhere to throw a frisbee.

Meanwhile, Britain's defence secretary rejected calls last night by his most senior military commander for Nato to "up the ante" in Libya.

Liam Fox said a targeting extension demanded by General David Richards, the chief of Britain's Defence Staff, had already happened.

"I think the point he was making is that a number of Nato countries have been less happy about some of the targeting," Dr Fox said.

Britain's parameters for attacks were "slightly more widely drawn" than those of some other allies, he added. For legal reasons, the alliance has claimed that Gaddafi is not being directly targeted.

Gen Richards said Nato needed to "do more" or there was "a risk that the conflict could result in Gaddafi clinging to power". He added that should the dictator be killed in a strike on a command and control centre that would be "within the rules".

In what appears to be a clear attempt to kill Gaddafi, Nato has bombed both the dictator's Tripoli compound and a house where he was staying.

Gaddafi is still alive and the regime remains defiant. "The Libyan people will not kneel and will not give in," said Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi in Tripoli yesterday.

Meanwhile, two suspected al-Qa'ida terrorists have been arrested near the Libyan border in Tunisia. The pair, one Libyan and one Algerian, carried a suicide bomber's explosive belt, several bombs, and Afghan identity papers. Two further Libyans carrying a bomb were arrested earlier last week. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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