Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has hit out at the Nato-led air strikes in Libya, |saying attacks on Muammar Gaddafi's palaces indicate the aim is to kill the Libyan leader.
On Monday Nato bombs hit a building in Gaddafi's official residence in Tripoli, in what the Libyan government maintained was an assassination attempt.
Nato has denied it is trying to kill the Libyan leader.
“There was talk about a no-fly zone. Okay. But where's the no-fly zone if every night they're bombing palaces where Gaddafi lives?” Putin said during a visit to Denmark.
“They say, ‘No, we don't want to destroy him’. Then why bomb the palaces? Is that how they drive out the mice?”
The commander of Nato's operation, Canadian Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, said the attack on the presidential complex in Tripoli was aimed at an army command centre and denied it was an attempt to kill Gaddafi.
Mr Putin accused the nations taking part in the Nato-led oper
ation of straying from the UN mandate to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians.
Russia abstained in the UN Security Council vote last month authorising the military operation in Libya.
At the time Mr Putin compared the UN resolution to “a call for a crusade”.
The Russian prime minister said that Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa.
“It begs the question: is this the real source of interest of those who are brandishing their weapons now?” he said.