x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Qaddafi aides present car crash baby as Nato airstrike victim

Baby described as wounded in a Nato air strike, but a hospital staff member passed a note to a journalist saying the infant was in fact injured in a car accident.

Naseeb, a seven-month baby, lies in a hospital in Tripoli. Qaddafi's aides brought foreign media to see her and described her as a wounded victim of a Nato air strike. But a hospital staff member, in a note passed to a journalist, said the infant was in fact injured in a car accident. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
Naseeb, a seven-month baby, lies in a hospital in Tripoli. Qaddafi's aides brought foreign media to see her and described her as a wounded victim of a Nato air strike. But a hospital staff member, in a note passed to a journalist, said the infant was in fact injured in a car accident. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

TRIPOLI // Libyan leader Col Muammar Qaddafi's aides brought foreign media to a hospital on Sunday to see a baby they described as a victim wounded in a Nato air strike.

A hospital staff member, however, in a note passed to a journalist, said the infant was in fact injured in a car accident.

Government media handlers brought reporters first to a farm on the outskirts of the city, where a man said his dog and several chickens had been killed by a missile strike on Sunday.

The man said that there were no injuries, although other people in the area later told some journalists that they had heard children were hurt.

The journalists were then brought to a hospital in the centre of the capital and taken to the bed of an unconscious infant girl hooked up to medical equipment.

A man appeared at the bedside and said that he was the girl's uncle, and she had been injured in Sunday's missile strike.

However, a member of the hospital staff passed one of the foreign journalists a handwritten note on hospital stationery.

"This is a case of road traffic accident. This is the truth," it read. No uniformed member of the hospital staff spoke to the journalists.

At the hospital, a man in civilian clothes, presented to cameras as a neighbour of the injured girl, leaned over her, shouted "God, Muammar, Libya and that's all!", a common pro-Qaddafi slogan, and denounced Nato.

The same man was present later that night at a separate media event, where he acknowledged that he was employed by Colonel Qaddafi government's media operations team.

Colonel Qaddafi's regime said more than 700 civilians had been killed and more than 4,000 wounded by Nato air strikes. However, the media team did not shown foreign reporters any evidence of large numbers of civilian casualties.

Libyan officials were not available to comment on the hospital staff member's note, or their representation of a member of their media staff as a neighbour of the injured girl.