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Latin America condemns attacks

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has condemned military strikes against Libya, accusing the US and its European allies of attacking the country to seize its oil.

Chavez's ally and mentor Fidel Castro raised similar concerns in a column written before the first strikes, while Bolivian President Evo Morales also accused world powers of intervening with an eye to the North African country's oil.

Chavez, who has long-standing ties with Muammar Gaddafi, has urged mediation and called it "disgusting" that the US, France and other countries were taking military action.

"More death, more war. They are the masters of war. What irresponsibility. And behind that is the hand of the US and its European allies."

"They want to seize Libya's oil. The lives of Libya's people don't matter to them at all. It is deplorable that once again the warmongering policy of the Yankee empire and its allies is being imposed, and it is deplorable that the United Nations lends itself to supporting war, infringing on its fundamental principles instead of urgently forming a commission to go to Libya."

Operating under authorisation of the UN Security Council, French fighter jets fired the first shots at Gaddafi's troops on Saturday, and US and British warships launched a missile attack on Libya's air defences.

"We know what's going to happen - bombs, bombs, war, more suffering for the people, more death," Chavez said in a televised speech in Caracas.

The socialist leader has been joined by Latin American allies including Castro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in strongly opposing US and Nato military involvement in Libya, and in suggesting that reports of atrocities by Gaddafi's troops were overblown or unproven.

In a column published in Cuba's state media, Castro asked why the UN Security Council exists, and said Nato wields such a colossal military force that it "serves only to show the waste and chaos generated by capitalism".

Speaking in Bolivia, Morales condemned the military intervention and said the strategy of some powerful countries has been to "invent a problem, and the problem is wanting to take control of oil".

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