Libya says NATO air strike hits major oil field

Wed Apr 6, 2011 6:22pm EDT
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By Maria Golovnina

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya said a U.N.-mandated British air strike had hit its major Sarir oilfield killing three guards and damaging a pipeline connecting the field to a Mediterranean port.

"British warplanes have attacked, have carried out an air strike against the Sarir oilfield which killed three oilfield guards and other employees at the field were also injured," Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told reporters.

There was no immediate official comment from Britain's Ministry of Defense on Kaim's comments about the field.

Earlier, Muammar Gaddafi's forces unleashed mortar rounds, tank fire and artillery shells on the western city of Misrata on as a French minister said NATO air strikes in Libya risked getting "bogged down."

Misrata, Libya's third city, rose up with other towns against Muammar Gaddafi's rule in mid-February, and it is now under attack by government troops after a violent crackdown put an end to most protests elsewhere in the west of the country.

Rebels are angry at what they perceive to be a scaling back of operations since NATO took over an air campaign, following an early onslaught led by the United States, France and Britain that at one stage tilted the war in the rebels' favor.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Gaddafi forces were making it harder for alliance pilots to distinguish them from civilians by hunkering down in populated areas. "The situation is unclear. There is a risk of getting bogged down," he said.

Juppe told France Info radio he would address the issue of tactics shortly with the head of NATO, adding Misrata's ordeal "cannot go on." NATO has accused Gaddafi of using human shields to make targeting harder for its warplanes.   Continued...

<p>Rebel fighters fire rockets from the desert east of Brega April 6, 2011. REUTERS Youssef Boudlal</p>