Khamis Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, appeared on state television Wednesday. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be much of an event, except last week rebels fighting against Gaddafi's government said that NATO killed Khamis during an airstrike in the town of Zlitan.

A video report, said to have been filmed on Tuesday, showed Colonel Gaddafi's youngest son visiting wounded people in a hospital in Tripoli. Khamis leads Libya's 32nd Brigade, a special forces unit. They are said not only be the most loyal Libyan unit, but also the best trained and equipped.

If the footage is genuine, it will be the first time that the son has appeared since his supposed death, confirming reports from the Libyan government that rebels were lying about the kill.

"It's false news. They invented the news about Mr Khamis Gaddafi in Zlitan to cover up their killing," spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told Reuters in Tripoli.

"This is a dirty trick to cover up their crime in Zlitan."

NATO has not yet confirmed or denied that a bombing run in Zlitan killed Khamis on Friday.

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Zawawi said on Friday that an airstrike in Zlitan, a city on the Libya's northwestern coast, killed 32 people. Zlitan has been the site of a vicious counter-attack against the rebel forces. The city is the half-way point between rebel-held Misrata and Tripoli, which is 90 miles away.

Gaddafi's government said that NATO killed dozens of civilians during strikes on the city of Majar, south of Zlitan, although NATO says that civilian causalities were unlikely.

Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's youngest son, was killed in a NATO bombing in May. Gaddafi had a total of eight children, including seven sons and a daughter.