Libya denies report Gadhafi would blow up Tripoli

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2011 5:58 PM
Libya denies report Gadhafi would blow up Tripoli

The Libyan government is denying a Russian newspaper report that allegedly quoted the Kremlin's special envoy to Libya as saying Moammar Gadhafi has threatened to blow up Tripoli if it falls into rebel hands.

Kremlin envoy Mikhail Margelov was quoted in Thursday's edition of the Izvestia newspaper as saying Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi recently told him "if the rebels seize the city, we will deluge it with missiles and blow it up."

But Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim later denied the report, saying Gadhafi's government would never destroy Tripoli or any other Libyan city. He said Margelov's office also told him they never issued any such statement.

"This is absolutely unfounded, untrue. We would never bombard our cities," Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli.

The civil war in Libya appears to have hit a stalemate despite a protracted NATO bombing campaign to protect Libyan civilians from Gadhafi's forces. Margelov has been a mediator in the standoff.

Russia abstained in the U.N. vote authorizing military intervention in Libya and has voiced concern about civilian casualties from the NATO campaign.