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Gaddafi's forces fire at British warship: ministry

Moamer Gaddafi's forces fire rockets at a British warship off the Libyan coast

AFP , Friday 5 Aug 2011

Moamer Gaddafi's forces fired rockets at a British warship off the Libyan coast this week as the vessel helped in a NATO bombing mission, the Ministry of Defence said Friday.

"Thankfully they did drop short, but the threat was real," a ministry spokesman told AFP, adding that it was the sixth time that HMS Liverpool, a Type 42 destroyer, had come under fire from the coast in its four months on patrol.

The rockets were launched from land in the early hours of Wednesday during a strike by coalition forces on Gaddafi targets near Zlitan in western Libya.

"HMS Liverpool was close at hand, firing a barrage of illumination rounds to facilitate NATO operations against other targets in the Zlitan area," the MoD said in a statement.

"Gaddafi's troops fired a number of rockets very inaccurately back out to sea."

According to reports from British journalists on board the destoyer at the time, Kadhafi's forces fired 20 Russian-made BM-21 rockets towards the destroyer, but they nosedived into the sea just to the south of the ship.

"We had one salvo of 20 rounds fired from the coast, so there were many missiles. They came out to sea towards Liverpool but our weapons systems worked exactly as expected," commander Colin Williams told the Daily Mirror.

"All the weapons systems came to bear within two or three seconds and the ship was prepared.

"Unfortunately, because they stopped firing we could not engage in self-defence."

As part of its contribution to military operations in Libya, Britain has deployed three warships off the coast: HMS Liverpool, HMS Ocean, which carries Apache helicopters, and HMS Bangor, a mine hunter.

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