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Gaddafi son still alive, says Libya

The Libyan government has denied rebel reports that Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son was killed in a Nato air strike on a front-line town in western Libya.

Officials in the rebel's capital of Benghazi said that Khamis Gaddafi was among 32 troops killed in a Nato strike against a government operations centre in Zlitan early on Friday.

But in Tripoli, deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said Khamis is alive and spoke to Libyan government officials to confirm his well-being.

"He is OK and alive, and they (reports of death) are just lies," said Mr Kaim.

He said the rebels spread reports of Khamis' death to "distract attention" from the killing late last month of rebel military chief Abdel Fattah Younes.

The rebel leadership has insisted Younes' assassination was the work of the Gaddafi regime, but several witnesses say Younes was killed by fellow rebels.

Nato said in a statement that it was aware of the reports that Khamis had been killed, but it did not confirm his death.

It said alliance strikes on Thursday night hit an ammunition depot and military police facility in Zlitan, which is the main front of fighting between rebels and Gaddafi's troops, 90 miles south-east of Tripoli.

Mohammed al-Rajali, a spokesman for the rebel leadership in Benghazi, said there were unconfirmed reports Khamis was killed when Nato hit a government operations centre. He said: "We want to capture all of these criminals and try them and bring them to justice but if killing them this way will stop the bloodshed I think it is another option."

The death of the 27-year-old Khamis would be a significant blow to the regime's efforts to fight off the rebels. He commands the 32nd Brigade, also known simply as the Khamis Brigade, one of the best trained and equipped units in the Libyan military.

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