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U.S. Predator drone fired on convoy outside Surt, officials say

October 20, 2011 |  5:35 pm

Portrait depicting Libya's Moammar Gadhafi
REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- An American Predator drone fired at a convoy outside the Libyan city of Surt on Thursday, U.S. military officials said.

But they could not say whether its objective was the convoy that reportedly tried to spirit away former leader Moammar Kadafi.

According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its aircraft struck two pro-Kadafi military vehicles about 8:30 a.m. in “the vicinity of” Surt. But NATO did not specify whether the target was the same convoy as the one carrying Kadafi.

PHOTOS: Moammar Kadafi | 1942 - 2011

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet told reporters that attacks from French aircraft stopped an 80-vehicle convoy leaving Surt, allowing anti-Kadafi forces to move in on the crippled convoy.

A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said later that the convoy broke up and went in different directions. The U.S. drone fired on one part of the convoy, the official said.

What happened after the airstrikes remains murky. But officials from Libya's provisional government announced that Kadafi had been killed, and amateur footage surfaced that appeared to show the ousted leader's body.


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-- David S. Cloud

Photo: A portrait depicting Libya's former ruler Moammar Kadafi on a wall in Tripoli is riddled with bullet marks on Sept. 8, 2011. Credit: Francois Mori / Associated Press