Libya officially requests NATO mission extension

Libya officially requests NATO mission extension

The head of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil officially requested on Wednesday that the NATO mission in his country be extended at least until the end of the year, dpa reported.

"Libya still needs friends' assistance in securing our borders against infiltration of arms and to curb illegal migration," Jalil told an international meeting of countries supporting Libya's interim rulers, in the Qatari capital Doha.

He added that extending the Western alliance's mandate would also protect the Libyans against threats from loyalists to the slain leader Moamer Gaddafi, who have fled to neighbouring countries.

The Libyan request prompted NATO ambassadors in Brussels, meeting Wednesday, to postpone until Friday their confirmation of last week's decision to end military operations by October 31, a Nato official told dpa.

"It makes sense to give some room for discussions to continue," the official said.

NATO was in contact with the Libyan leadership and the United Nations, under whose mandate the alliance intervened in Libya, according to the same source.

"A final decision" on the future of NATO's mission in Libya would be taken Friday, the Nato official said.

The chief of the Qatari army staff, Hamad ben Ali, has unveiled a plan to set up an international alliance hailing from NATO to tackle military training and collection of unlicensed arms in Libya, the online newspaper Qurynaew reported on Wednesday.

The new alliance comprises 13 countries, including the United States, Britain and France, and is to be led by Qatar, according to the official.

The coalition is to start its operations in Libya after the end of NATO's mission, the paper said.

Meanwhile, a Red Cross source disclosed Wednesday that the bodies of 267 people, many of them believed to have been summarily executed, had been found in Sirte, the hometown of Gaddafi.

Officials from the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, now in Sirte, had documented the bodies before they were buried in mass graves, the source told Qurynaew.

Sirte was for weeks the scene of fierce fighting between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces.

The port city, which was heavily damaged in the fighting, fell to the forces backed by the National Transitional Council on Thursday.

According to the Red Cross source, the council has pledged to carry out probes into the deaths and bring the killers to justice.

On Wednesday a French lawyer said that Gaddafi's family planned to file a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court, accusing NATO of a "war crime" over his death.

In an interview with France's Europe 1 radio, lawyer Marcel Ceccaldi accused NATO of the "murder" of Gaddafi on October 20.

"It's NATO helicopters that fired on the convoy in which he was travelling. The convoy presented no risque for (civilian) population. Therefore it's a planned murder by NATO," he said.

While the airstrikes did not kill Gaddafi, they injured the former leader, who was later "finished off" by forces of the National Transitional Council, the lawyer accused.

The council has announced forming a commission of enquiry into Gaddafi's death, following calls by the United Nations and a number of Western countries for an investigation.

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