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Libyan suicide pilot may have killed Gaddafi’s son Khamis

By Donald Macintyre and Terri Judd

There were reports emerging last night that one of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's sons had been killed during an air strike on Libyan capital Tripoli.

According to Arab newspapers, the dictator’s sixth son, Khamis, was killed when a Libyan suicide pilot deliberately crashed his jet into Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizia compound on Saturday.

The Arabian Business News website claimed Khamis died from his burns later in a Tripoli hospital.

However, the reports have been denied by the Libyan government.

The speculation emerged as MPs in the House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a Commons motion supporting the Government's decision to commit British armed forces to Libya by 557 votes to 13, a majority of 544.

While the vote demonstrated strong cross-party support for the military action, some MPs voiced their criticism of the lack of a planned endgame and concern over the costs of the operation.

As the debate went on late into the night, RAF Typhoon Eurofighters took off to fly their first-ever combat missions while policing the Libyan no-fly zone.

The Chief of Defence Staff's Strategic Communication Officer, Major General John Lorimer, confirmed it was the first time Typhoons have been used in a combat mission.

The Typhoon is mainly deployed as a fighter and could use its air-to-air missile systems to bring down any Libyan aircraft defying the no-fly zone.

Ground forces loyal to Gaddafi were still fighting to gain and hold territory yesterday after two nights of western bombardment.

As Libyan anti-aircraft guns went into action in the capital for the third night, suggesting that the coalition was still some distance from the effective no-fly zone that it is aiming to achieve, Gaddafi's forces launched a fresh onslaught on Misrata, the last rebel stronghold in the western part of the country.

Residents said water supplies had been cut off and government troops had encircled the city.

One resident suggested that the pro-Gaddafi forces were deploying human shields from nearby towns in the city, and claimed that when civilians had gathered in the centre of the town to confront the forces, they “started shooting at them with artillery and guns. The hospital told us that at least nine people were killed.”

The RAF backed up the claim that human shields were being deployed throughout Libya, admitting that a 3,000-mile mission to bomb Libya was aborted minutes from the targets on Sunday night because of reports that civilians were in the area.

Maj Gen Lorimer said the decision to call the mission off illustrated the coalition's determination to “take all measures possible to reduce the chance of harming innocent civilians”.

It remained unclear whether Gaddafi was actually using civilians as human shields.

Meanwhile, The Ministry of Defence denied reports that Royal Marines from 40 Commando had been put on five days' notice to leave for the Mediterranean.

In Cairo yesterday, Libyans infuriated by the international military intervention blocked the path of the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, after his meeting with the Arab League secretary-general, Amr Moussa, who has been increasingly restive about the western attacks to impose a no-fly zone that his organisation backed 11 days ago.

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