NATO rejects criticism of Libyan TV bombing

AP News
|
Posted: Aug 09, 2011 10:44 AM
NATO rejects criticism of Libyan TV bombing

NATO has rejected growing international criticism of its airstrike on Libyan television last month, saying Tuesday it has no evidence the attack caused any casualties.

Libyan officials have said the July 31 airstrike on the state television's satellite dishes killed three journalists and injured 15 others.

But NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said the alliance had not deliberately targeted journalists and disputed the claim that anyone had been hurt.

"NATO targeted equipment that had been used to incite attacks against civilians," she said. "We are unaware of any evidence of casualties associated with this strike in these dishes."

The British military has said its warplanes had used Brimstone anti-tank missiles against the TV installation. The Brimstone _ equipped with a small explosive warhead _ has been used often during the Libyan campaign to avoid harming civilians.

Photos of the target show that the plastic dishes had been melted or blown apart, but the metal fairings to which they were attached appeared undamaged.

International journalists' groups immediately condemned the airstrikes, saying they violated a 2006 U.N. measure that specifically bans attacks on the media in wartime.

U.N. Security Council resolution 1738, adopted in 2006, condemns acts of violence against journalists and media personnel in conflict situations.

On Monday, the head of the U.N.'s cultural and educational body echoed that criticism, saying the attack also violated the Geneva Conventions.

"I deplore the NATO strike on (Libyan TV) and its installations," said Irina Bokova, director-general of the Paris-based body.

"Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions," she said. "Silencing the media is never a solution."

UNESCO _ which sees itself as a defender of freedom of expression _ is scheduled to discuss the airstrike at an upcoming conference in September.