A Libyan government spokesman has told Sky News Colonel Qaddafi's forces would never kill civilians - and insisted the leader was "loved by millions."

Ibrahaim Moussa blamed coalition forces for killing 48 civilians on the first night of military action.

He told Sky's Lisa Holland - reporting from Tripoli under the supervision of Libyan authorities - that "many" more had been killed on the second and third nights of strikes. He was unable to provide precise figures.

Britain and the international community should send a "fact-finding mission" from abroad to identify who is killing civilians, instead of sending "rockets and bombs," he added.

"We are saying we can not kill our children, our sons of Libya, because the Libyan army is composed of Libyan children, of Libyan tribes," Moussa said.

"How could Libyan tribes kill Libyan tribes? We can't do that even if we want to."

He went on: "Why is it so easy for the British government and your spokespersons to send rockets on us, and it's very difficult to send politicians and observers and judge us?

"You can't accuse of crimes, condemn us, sentence us and punish us without investigating us."

Moussa said coalition strikes had hit "civilian and quasi-military" targets, such as ports and harbours used by fishermen and civilian workers as well as the army.

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