Nato 'not tracking former regime leaders'

2011-09-06 13:43
Brussels – Nato is not tracking "fleeing former regime leaders" in Libya, an alliance spokesperson said on Tuesday, after a Libyan military convoy with Muammar Gaddafi rumoured aboard crossed into Niger.

"To be clear, our mission is to protect the civilian population in Libya, not to track and target thousands of fleeing former regime leaders, mercenaries, military commanders and internally displaced people," said Colonel Roland Lavoie, the Nato mission's military spokesperson.

A military source in Niger said earlier that an "exceptionally large and rare convoy" of several dozen vehicles entered the northern Niger city of Agadez late on Monday and was going towards the capital Niamey.

Nato, which has repeatedly denied targeting Gaddafi and other regime officials, did not confirm or deny whether it knew about the convoy.

"Nato continuously receives reports and inputs from various sources regarding weapons, vehicles and even convoys of vehicles moving throughout Libya," Lavoie said.

"We do not discuss the intelligence and surveillance information we collect but we do publicly announce the actions we take when we act on what we consider are threats to the civilian population," he said in a statement.

He added that Nato warplanes destroyed two large regime convoys that threatened civilians in the past two weeks.

The source in Niger also cited "persistent rumours that Gaddafi or one of his sons are travelling in the convoy."

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