BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO warplanes bombed a Libyan warship docked in Tripoli harbour after observing that weapons were being take from it that were expected to be used to conduct attacks, the alliance said on Tuesday.
The Soviet-built Koni-class frigate was hit and badly damaged on the military side of the port of Tripoli, NATO military spokesman Colonel Roland Lavoie told a news briefing.
“It became evident regime forces were removing weaponry and munitions from the warship with the intent of using them from other platforms,” he said.
NATO was concerned the arms could have been used against civilians, NATO forces, or ships delivering humanitarian aid.
“The strikes were successful and they are expected to reduce the regime’s ability to conduct hostile action,” Lavoie said.
“The state of the frigate is not good. As of this morning, photos showed that it was quite damaged. I would conclude that it is very unlikely to present any threat in the future to the civilian population or to NATO forces.”
NATO’s air campaign and a sea blockade launched in March have kept Gaddafi’s naval forces confined to harbour except for a few minor harassment missions, although two NATO warships did come under ineffective rocket fire from the coast last week.
NATO said it destroyed several Libyan naval vessels in air strikes in May. Warships hit at that time included a Koni-class frigate and a Combattante class fast-attack ship.