By Damien McElroy
March 30, 2011
If confirmed, the deaths would be the first civilian deaths attributable to the air campaign since it was launched on March 18. However it was impossible yesterday to verify the claims of Libyan officials.
Intriguingly, a North Korean doctor lost his foot and his wife was injured when a second unguided rocket blasted through a housing bloc. North Korea earns money from sending its medics to friendly regimes. Western intelligence organisations have reported that the exchanges have served as a front for military dealings.
The woman was reportedly killed while several others were wounded by a rocket that came from an armoury hit by a coalition strike.
The hospital in the town of Mizdah has opened its doors to show the aftermath of Monday’s incident. A blood-soaked pillow and smeared sheets testified to the damage caused. The rocket punched a hole in the reinforced concrete roof of the facility.
Mona Ali, a nurse in the hospital, described how she had received two phone calls on the night of the attack on the military arsenal in the mountain town, 150 miles south of Tripoli.
“We heard a very big bomb and I got a call to come to surgery department. Then I got another call telling me the department was bombed,” she said. “When I got here one old lady was dead and others were seriously injured.
“People have checked themselves out, other people have disappeared, we can’t find them.” Miss Ali said the mainly Bedouin residents of Mizdah were unnerved and angered by the attack.
“If they want to change the system they could have done it peacefully,” she said. “What are they doing burning down the police station? All the children are afraid of them.”
Residents of Kamsun, a village in the mountains, said a projectile from a military base had punched a hole in a wall in a private home, killing Fira Jeddin Al-Suwefi, a one-and-a-half year old infant.
“It was very loud. There was a set of explosions. The baby, my nephew was killed,” said Nasr Al-Suwefi, a former student at Portsmouth University.
The child had already been buried so there was no opportunity to examine the injuries.
Mizdah and nearby Gharyan are garrison towns that are playing an important role in Col Muammar Gaddafi’s efforts to crush rebels. Troops based in the area have attacked Zintan, a small city in the Western mountains near the Tunisian border that has fought to repel the Libyan army and security forces.
Opposition spokesmen said an attempt to rise up against the regime in Mizdah was brutally dealt with and that people treated in the hospital were later arrested by the security forces.
Tripoli has claimed that at least 100 hundred civilians have been killed in the UN-backed air raids.