NATO said on Saturday it had bombed and disabled three Libyan satellite dishes in the capital Tripoli in order to prevent leader Muammar Gaddafi from using television to terrorise civilians.
"A few hours ago NATO conducted a precision airstrike that disabled three ground-based Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes in Tripoli," NATO spokesman Colonel Roland Lavoie said in a video statement distributed by the alliance's press service.
"The strike performed by NATO fighter aircraft using state-of-the-art precision-guided munitions was conducted ... with the intent of degrading Gaddafi's use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them."
Following the statement, Libyan state television, monitored by Reuters in London, was still on the air.
Several explosions had rocked Tripoli late on Friday evening and state television said then that airstrikes had hit civilian targets, though this was impossible to verify.
Lavoie said NATO had acted after careful planning to minimise the risk of casualties or long-term damage to television transmission capabilities, and was now in the process of assessing the effect of the strike.
"Striking specifically these critical satellite dishes will reduce the regime's ability to oppress civilians while at the same time preserving television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict," he said.
Lavoie said the operation was in line with a United Nations mandate to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi's forces, under which NATO has been conducting bombing operations since March.
"Our intervention was necessary as TV was being used as an integral component of the regime apparatus designed to systematically oppress and threaten civilians and to incite attacks against them," he said.
ReutersLast Mod: 30 Temmuz 2011, 12:37