About 1,000 believed killed in Libya violence: UK

LONDON (Reuters) – About 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the British government said in a human rights report published on Thursday.

“Whilst there has been no official death toll, several sources report that approximately 1,000 people have already been killed and many more have been injured during the recent violence,” the report from Britain’s Foreign Office said.

The Foreign Office also said it was “appalled by widespread reports of other serious human rights violations, including the use of torture and extra-judicial executions, illegal arrests and detentions (including incommunicado detention), denial of medical assistance and humanitarian aid.”

The quarterly update on human rights in Libya, covering the period since an uprising began against Gaddafi’s rule, noted “credible and consistent reports of…brutality with innocent civilians reported killed by indiscriminate shelling and air strikes by pro-Gaddafi forces in towns and cities in Libya where anti-government protests were taking place.”

Such reports led an international coalition, including Britain, to set up a no-fly zone over Libya and to launch military strikes against pro-Gaddafi forces to prevent attacks on civilians. Allied forces say they have now destroyed the Libyan air force.

Coalition officials say they are doing their best to avoid civilian casualties.

But the Vatican’s top official in the Libyan capital, quoting what he called reliable sources in close contact with residents, told Reuters on Thursday at least 40 civilians have been killed in air strikes by Western forces on Tripoli.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Louise Ireland)

About 1,000 believed killed in Libya violence: UK