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Libya: Reports of 1,000 killed are 'credible,' Italian foreign minister says

February 23, 2011 |  9:04 am

Frattini Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Wednesday that reports of 1,000 people killed in the violence in Libya are "credible," Reuters reported. 

But Frattini said that the reports required additional verification by foreign journalists who have yet to file reports from Tripoli, the Libyan capital where New York-based Human Rights Watch said hospitals have received scores of victims shot by government forces shooting "randomly" at protesters in recent days.

Frattini told Italian Parliament that he also feared that Italy may soon be on the receiving end of a large scale exodus of up to 300,000 Libyans "if real civil war leads to a collapse of the system." 

"There would be an exodus of biblical proportions, a problem that Italy cannot, must not underestimate," Frattini told the Corriere della Sera daily.

Italy is already grappling with a mass influx of immigrants from Tunisia since the fall of its veteran ruler but Frattini said that would be nothing compared with the number of immigrants who could flee neighboring Libya.

Interior ministers from European Union countries on the Mediterranean including Greece, Spain, France, Malta and Cyprus were due to meet in Rome on Wednesday to discuss the refugee situation, Reuters reported.

--Garrett Therolf

Photo: Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Italy is expected to receive Libyan refugees. Credit: AFP