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Libya airs TV footage of Gadhafi's son, who rebels claim was killed

Libyan state television has shown what it says is footage of Moammar Gadhafi's son Khamis, who rebels said last week had been killed, visiting Libyans wounded in an air attack east of Tripoli.
Image: Still image from video footage by Libyan state television shows what it says is Muammar Gaddafi's son Khamis visiting wounded Libyans in a hospital
Still image from video footage by Libyan state television shows what it says is Moammar Gadhafi's son Khamis, left, visiting wounded Libyans in a hospital. Libyan TV said the footage was recorded on Tuesday and if genuine, will be the first visual proof by Gadhafi's government that Khamis is still alive. Rebels said last week that Khamis, commander of one of Gadhafi's most loyal and best-equipped units, had been killed by a NATO air strike near Zlitan. Reuters TV
/ Source: Reuters

Libyan state television showed on Tuesday what it said was footage of Moammar Gadhafi's son Khamis, who rebels said last week had been killed, visiting Libyans wounded in an air attack east of Tripoli.

The Libyan government has denied rebel claims that Khamis, commander of one of Gadhafi's most loyal and best-equipped units, had been killed by a NATO airstrike near Zlitan.

Libyan TV said the footage was recorded Tuesday. If genuine, it would be the first visual proof by Gadhafi's government that Khamis Gadhafi was still alive.

Wearing a military uniform and an orange beret and bearing a striking resemblance to Khamis, a man was heard chatting to people the network said were wounded earlier Tuesday in a NATO air strike on farmhouses near the seaside town of Zlitan.

The government said dozens of civilians were killed in the attack. NATO said it hit a legitimate military target and was investigating the incident.

"They bombed the house. You mean you did not expect to be bombed," Khamis could be heard asking a woman lying in a hospital bed.

In the ongoing civil war, conflicting accusations collide and dusty farmlands have become a battleground.  There is little doubt, however, about the conflict's human toll, no matter its nature or numbers.

The scene was gruesome and chaotic in Zlitan on Tuesday as sweaty cameramen and government officials crowded into the tiny, sweltering hospital morgue, clutching scarves and paper masks to protect against the sickening smell.

The sights, as medical workers unzipped some of the body bags lying haphazardly on the floor, were even worse: jumbled body parts coated with blood and dust; a foot stacked the wrong way against someone's corpse; the heartbreaking sight of a limp child still in diapers.

Such is the reality of the Libya conflict more than four months after Western nations began their airstrikes to help a ragtag rebel force defeat troops loyal to Gadhafi.

No end in sight?
The allegations from the government that the latest NATO strikes had killed scores of civilians could further strain a campaign that has waning support and no clear end in sight.

An uprising in Libya ousts dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Officials in Tripoli, hoping to show the world that NATO bombings have strayed from military targets, rushed foreign reporters onto a bus to witness the aftermath of airstrikes they said had killed 85 civilians — 33 children, 32 women, 20 men — late Monday night.

"Only God knows why these people were targeted," said Faraj Mohamed, another resident of the village of Majar, where the isolated farmhouses were struck about six miles south of the Mediterranean coast.

For residents like Mohamed, mindful of Italy's colonial experiment in Libya and decades of Western interest in its oil riches, the deaths were further proof that no good could come of foreign involvement here.

When reporters arrived, they saw that massive blasts had collapsed the concrete farmhouses, surrounded by high walls in the middle of stubbly, dry fields. Inside, the rubble was littered with blankets, mattresses and children's schoolbooks. There was no evidence of weaponry.

Footage later provided by government officials showed men combing through one of the bomb sites, apparently the night before, picking hands and feet and other body parts out of the rubble. The battered corpse of an infant was placed on a blanket along with the remains of another child.

But onlookers milling around the scene of the strikes the next day had confused and sometimes conflicting narratives. There were neighbors who couldn't remember the names of dead; people who became confused about the death toll; accounts of the series of strikes that were difficult to piece together.

Perhaps people didn't understand the questions posed through interpreters or in foreigners' Arabic; perhaps grieving relatives and neighbors were in shock.

Nor did reporters see more than about 30 corpses throughout the day, though they were told the rest of the bodies were brought to Tripoli or were still trapped in the rubble.

NATO, which accuses Gadhafi forces of housing military assets alongside civilians, said soldiers may have been killed in the strike it said hit a military staging ground south of Zlitan, where nearby rebels are hoping to break a long impasse against Gadhafi.

While NATO said there was no proof civilians had been killed, it is virtually impossible for the alliance to verify who is killed in such strikes.