ALGIERS (Reuters) - NATO warplanes launched air strikes on the Libyan capital Tripoli on Thursday and a government spokesman said three people were killed.
State-run Al-Libya TV channel had earlier reported that there were casualties. "Tripoli is now subjected to air strikes. There are civilian casualties," a presenter said.
Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told Reuters in Tripoli: "A few civilians were killed here in Tripoli. I know that three men who were walking by a checkpoint were killed immediately in the south of Tripoli."
Ibrahim also said two men were killed in Sirte, 450 km (280 miles) east of Tripoli, suggesting there had been air strikes there as well, without giving details.
In Tripoli earlier on Thursday, Reuters correspondents reported hearing four blasts and saw plumes of smoke rising from the southeast of the capital. Heavy anti-aircraft fire was also heard, before and after the blasts.
One photographer said she saw a jet in the sky moments before one loud explosion that threw up a plume of smoke.
A second correspondent said he could see smoke rising from the southeast of the city after hearing four blasts.
Ibrahim, the government spokesman, said: "Some of these air strikes are meaningless. They are attacking very old army camps, checkpoints and sometimes empty spaces."
He added: "We noticed what they care about is the size of the explosion and that it is visible to the civilian population in Tripoli and Sirte and other places."
(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Zohra Bensemra and Mussab Al-Khairalla in Tripoli; writing by Richard Lough and Fredrik Dahl; editing by Mark Heinrich)