Africa

Nato to end Libya mission on 31 October

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAnders Fogh Rasmussen: "We will maintain the capacity to respond to threats to civilians if needed"

Nato will end its operations in Libya at the end of October, the alliance's secretary general has said.

"We agreed that our operations are very close to completion," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters.

He added that during the transition period Nato would continue to fulfil its UN mandate to protect civilians.

The announcement came a day after Col Muammar Gaddafi was killed, and amid differences among Libyan officials over plans for the former leader's burial.

Speaking at Nato headquarters in Brussels, Mr Rasmussen said: "I'm very proud of what we have achieved [in Libya], together with our partners."

He said members had reached a "preliminary decision" to end operations on 31 October, and that a formal confirmation would come next week.

During its seven-month Libyan campaign, Nato has carried out some 26,000 sorties and almost 10,000 strike missions.

Burial row

Col Gaddafi was killed on Thursday, after the final push by transition government forces in Sirte - the colonel's hometown and the last city's where his supporters were holding out.

Under Islamic tradition his body should have buried as soon as possible. But burial has been delayed by disagreements over what to do with the body.

Col Gaddafi's remains - and those of his son Mutassim who was also killed on Thursday - are lying in a meat storage room.

Oil Minister Ali Tarhouni told Reuters news agency: "I told them to keep it in the freezer for a few days... to make sure that everybody knows he is dead."

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Tripoli says the National Transitional Council (NTC) needs to co-ordinate with the fighters who captured him and have taken him to Misrata.

Questions are also mounting as to exactly what happened in Col Gaddafi's last moments following his capture.

Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said Col Gaddafi had been shot in the head in an exchange of fire.

Misrata's chief forensic doctor, Othman al-Zintani, told al-Arabiya TV that full autopsies would be carried out on the bodies of Col Gaddafi and Mutassim.

Correspondents say few in Libya are worried about the manner of the former strongman's death - which has been celebrated across the country.

But human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed concern about the legality of the killing.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, told the BBC: "There are two videos out there, one showing him alive and one showing him dead and there are four or five different versions of what happened in between those two cell phone videos. That obviously raises very, very major concerns."

In Washington, White House spokesman Mark Toner urged Libya's interim leaders to determine the circumstances of Col Gaddafi's death in a "transparent manner".

Col Gaddafi, who came to power in a coup in 1969, was toppled in August.