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UN: Libyan forces committed war crimes

GENEVA -- A United Nations panel said yesterday that Libyan government forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in a conflict it estimates has killed between 10,000-15,000 people.

The UN investigators said there is evidence that opposition forces also committed "some acts which would constitute war crimes."

"The commission is not of the view that the violations committed by the opposition armed forces were part of any 'widespread or systematic attack' against a civilian population such as to amount to crimes against humanity," it added.

The three-member panel based its findings on interviews with 350 people in government- and rebel-held parts of Libya, as well as in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

Their 92-page report adds to evidence collected by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, who are seeking arrest warrants for Moammar Gadhafi and two other senior officials it alleges are responsible. The report was commissioned in February by the UN Human Rights Council, which has no power to launch legal proceedings but can censure governments accused of committing abuses.

The UN panel said government forces committed murder, torture and sexual abuses "as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population" before and during the conflict.

"Such acts fall within the meaning of 'crimes against humanity,' " it said.

In Libya, meanwhile, a car bomb exploded next to the Tebesty Hotel, where foreign diplomats stay in the Libyan rebels' de facto capital of Benghazi.

Jalal al-Gallal, a rebel spokesman, said the car bomb caused no injuries or deaths. The burning car sent plumes of black smoke into the air.

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