BENGHAZI: Libya's rebel forces on Friday said an overnight NATO strike on an operations centre in the western town of Zliten has killed Moammar Qaddafi's son Khamis, and more than 30 other people.
Citing spies operating among Qaddafi's ranks, Mohammed Zawawi, a spokesman for revolutionary militia groups, told AFP that Khamis was among the dead.
"Overnight there was a aircraft attack by NATO on the Qaddafi operations room in Zliten and there are around 32 Qaddafi troops killed. One of them is Khamis," said Zawawi, a spokesman for the United Revolutionary Forces.
Rebels said their own operations room in eastern Libya had also intercepted radio chatter indicating Qaddafi's son had been killed.
There was no independent verification of his death, which has been rumoured a number of times during Libya's five month-long civil war.
At the Naples headquarters of NATO's Libya operations, an official asked about the claim, said: "We're looking into it."
Khamis, who has long led pro-government militia fighters, was said to be commanding the battle for Zliten, a Qaddafi bastion that has halted the rebel advance on Tripoli.
The 28-year-old who was trained at a Russian military academy, commands the eponymous, and much feared, Khamis Brigade - one of Qaddafi's toughest fighting units.
The strike appears to have come just hours after Tripoli took journalists on an escorted tour of the centre of Zliten, an effort to rubbish rebel claims the town was under attack.
Fighters from the rebel enclave of Misrata, 60 kilometres to the east, announced this week they had made progress in Zliten, a strategic coastal town on the road to Tripoli.
But authorities in Tripoli quickly denied that, saying they controlled the entire town.
On Thursday an AFP journalist saw the town centre was in the hands of regime forces, although intensive artillery fire was heard in the distance.
Residents said the frontline is located at a distance of 10 to 15 kilometres east of the city centre while rebel official said they control three neighbourhoods in the town's east.