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Gaddafi Taunts Nato From His Hiding Place

Tripoli, May 14 : Taunting NATO, Libyan dictator  Moammar Gaddafi said that he is alive despite a series of airstrikes and 'in a place where you can't get to me.', reports The Daily Mail.The defiant
PTI May 14, 2011 10:32 IST

Tripoli, May 14 : Taunting NATO, Libyan dictator  Moammar Gaddafi said that he is alive despite a series of airstrikes and 'in a place where you can't get to me.', reports The Daily Mail.The defiant audio recording was broadcast after the Libyan government accused NATO of killing 11 Muslim clerics with an airstrike on a disputed eastern oil town.

Gaddafi had appeared on state TV 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 Friday on Libyan TV, Gaddafi 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 me,' he said. 'I live in the hearts of millions.'He referred to a NATO airstrike on Thursday that targeted his Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, claiming it had killed 'three innocent journalist-civilians.'

Reporters on Thursday were shown the airstrike damage by Libyan officials, including one who said Gaddafi 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 - a sprawling complex of buildings surrounded by towering concrete blast walls.

Many people 'driven by their love for me put in many calls to check on my well-being after they heard of the cowardly missile attack of the crusaders on Bab al-Aziziya last Thursday, May 12,' Gaddafi said in the recording, which lasted just over a minute.

NATO shrugged off the statement.'We are not targeting him, our targets are solely military,' alliance spokeswoman Carmen Romero said in Brussels.

Shortly before Gaddafi's remarks were broadcast, regime spokesman Moussa Ibrahim claimed that NATO had attacked Brega while dozens of imams and officials from around Libya were gathered there to pray for peace.

Ibrahim said 11 imams were killed in their sleep at a guesthouse, and 50 people were wounded, including five in critical condition.The alliance, responding to the claim, said it had attacked a military command-and-control center in Brega, 450 miles southeast of Tripoli.

'We're very careful in the selection of our targets and this one was very clearly identified as a command centre,' said an official at NATO's operational headquarters in Naples, Italy, who spoke under the alliance's rules that he could not be named.

Colonel Gaddafi's compound has been a frequent site of Nato-led air strikes, including an attack on April 30 where he is believed to have been inside but have escaped unharmed.The claims come the day after the colonel made his first TV appearance in weeks after a Nato air strike on Tripoli killed his youngest son and three grandchildren.

It was the first sighting of the Libyan dictator since April 9. He was filmed talking with tribal leaders in a hotel in the capital.A projection screen behind him showed a morning chat show on state al-Jamahirya TV which displayed yesterday's date in one corner.It seemed a very deliberate move to scotch rumours - helped along by an official Nato spokesman the day before - that he may have been killed by an air strike.

Gaddafi had been in hiding since the rocket attack which struck a house in Tripoli. The Libyan government said he and his wife were unhurt in the attack.

Nato air attacks have continuously targeted Gaddafi's compounds in and around the Libyan capital ever since support for the rebel forces from the east began several weeks ago - although leaders claim not to be deliberately targeting him.Nato has said it has carried out around 2,400 sorties against the Colonels forces since March 31.