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NATO bombs 3 Libyan TV transmitters

TRIPOLI, Libya -- NATO warplanes bombed three Libyan state TV satellite transmitters in Tripoli overnight, targeting a key propaganda tool that the military alliance said yesterday is used by Moammar Gadhafi's government to incite violence and threaten civilians.

Libya's rebel movement, meanwhile, appeared in disarray after the mysterious death of its chief military commander in a killing that some witnesses said was carried out by fellow rebel fighters who suspected him of treason.

The rebels' political leader sought to dispel any notions of infighting yesterday and accused Gadhafi supporters of killing Abdel-Fattah Younis.

He told reporters that the commander, who was Gadhafi's interior minister before defecting, had not been suspected of treason but had been arrested after complaints he was mismanaging rebel forces.

The NATO strikes in Tripoli echoed across the capital before dawn.

There was no comment from Libyan officials on what had been hit, but state TV was still on the air in Tripoli as of yesterday morning.

NATO said the airstrikes aimed to degrade Gadhafi's "use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them."

"Striking specifically these critical satellite dishes will reduce the regime's ability to oppress civilians while . . . [preserving] television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict," the alliance said in a statement posted on its website. It called Gadhafi's TV broadcasts inflammatory and said they were intended to mobilize his supporters.

During the previous 24 hours, alliance aircraft also targeted military vehicles, radars, ammunition dumps, anti-aircraft guns and command centers near the front lines in the east and west, NATO said.

The head of the rebel National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, gave a more detailed account yesterday of the events leading up to the rebel military commander's slaying.

Abdel-Fattah Younis' body was found dumped outside the rebels' de facto capital of Benghazi on Thursday along with the bodies of two colonels who were his top aides. They had been shot and their bodies burned.

His killing while in rebel custody immediately raised suspicions that he was assassinated by his own side. But Abdul-Jalil said authorities had the names of those behind the attack and believed they were acting on behalf of the Gadhafi regime. No arrests have yet been made, he said.

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