BENGHAZI - Libya's rebel forces said Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son, Khamis, and more than 30 others were killed in a NATO strike on an operations centre in the western town of Zliten.
Citing spies operating among Colonel Gaddafi's ranks, Mohammed Zawawi, a spokesman for revolutionary militia groups, said Khamis was among the dead.
''Overnight there was an aircraft attack by NATO on the Gaddafi operations room in Zliten, and there are around 32 Gaddafi troops killed. One of them is Khamis,'' Mr Zawawi, a spokesman for the United Revolutionary Forces said.
Khamis, who has long led pro-government militia fighters, was said to be commanding the battle for Zliten - a Gaddafi bastion that has halted the rebel advance on Tripoli.
The strike on Thursday appears to have occurred hours after Col Gaddafi's regime took journalists on a tour of the centre of Zliten, an effort to rubbish rebel claims the town was under attack and blame NATO for recent deaths.
Journalists were shown the town centre in the hands of regime forces, although intensive artillery fire was heard in the distance.
A mother and two children who were killed on Thursday were hit by a NATO raid, a Libyan official told reporters.
Fighters from the rebel enclave of Misrata, 60 kilometres to the east, announced this week they had made progress in Zliten, a strategic coastal town on the road to Tripoli.
But authorities in Tripoli quickly denied that claim, saying they controlled the entire town.
Residents said the frontline is between 10 and 15 kilometres east of the city centre, while rebel officials said they control three neighbourhoods in the town's east.
The rebels scored a minor victory on Thursday, when an oil tanker with 37,000 tonnes of petrol steamed into the port of Benghazi.
A rebel soldier coming ashore said the vessel, emblazoned with the initials of the state-owned General National Maritime Transport Company, had been intercepted with the help of NATO two days ago ''quite close to Tripoli''.