Nato air strikes during Friday night killed a total of 354 people in the loyalist stronghold of Sirte, Colonel Gaddafi's birthplace, the former spokesman for the Libyan regime claimed yesterday.
The bombing of the city's main hotel and an apartment block left 700 injured with 89 others missing, according to Moussa Ibrahim, who is believed to be in the city currently under siege from rebel forces. There were no independent means to verify the report, with Sirte effectively cut off since Gaddafi was overthrown.
Colonel Roland Lavoie, chief spokesman for Nato's Libya mission, said: "We are aware of these allegations. It is not the first time they have been made. Most often, they are revealed to be unfounded or inconclusive."
Mr Ibrahim, one of the few members of the former regime – along with Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam – who has continued to make public statements, also maintained that "in the past 17 days, more than 2,000 residents of the city of Sirte were killed in Nato air strikes".
Colonel Gaddafi was still in Libya "leading all aspects of the struggle", according to Mr Ibrahim.
Meanwhile at Bani Walid, another regime stronghold, rebel forces were said to be "regrouping" yesterday after retreating out of the town on Friday evening.