For the second time in a week, Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi has threatened to dispatch hundreds of Libyan suicide bombers to attack targets in Europe in retaliation for NATO strikes against his regime.
"Hundreds of Libyans will martyr in Europe," Kadafi said late Friday in a defiant speech before thousands of Libyans in Tripoli's Green Square. "I told you it is eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth."
The latest threats came as pro-government forces launched a counterattack on rebels attempting to push toward Tripoli, the capital, from their enclave in the port city of Misurata, 125 miles to the east. A spokesman in the eastern rebel bastion of Benghazi said that at least seven rebel fighters were killed and 17 wounded in the fighting late Friday.
On Saturday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said its aircraft carried out a "precision strike" that destroyed a government missile battery hidden in a group of farm buildings outside Misurata. The missile battery had been "used to launch indiscriminate attacks on Libyan civilians, including the port and city of Misurata," a NATO statement said.
"By using civilian sites for military purposes, the Kadafi regime has once again shown complete disregard for the welfare ofLibyan civilians," said Canadian air force Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO's Libya campaign.
Kadafi first threatened to attack Europe in a recorded message played at a rally July 1 in Tripoli. He warned Europeans that Libyan attackers would "target your homes, offices and families, which would become legitimate targets."
Kadafi has portrayed the NATO mission as an illegal invasion of a Muslim nation by the West.
In Benghazi, a spokesman for the rebel Transitional National Council dismissed Kadafi's threats.
"He's just bragging," spokesman Mohammed Kesh said. "If he could do it, he would have done it already without talking about it."