Libya's government accused and NATO denied an assassination attempt on Col. Muammar Gaddafi on Sunday after NATO bombed the leader's compound in Tripoli's suburbs, with a Libyan government spokesman saying the attack killed one of the leader's sons and three grandchildren.

The air strikes in Libya's capital killed son Seif al-Arab Muammar Gaddafi, 21, a Libyan government spokesman said.

NATO on Sunday said it had bombed a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighborhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening.

The three grandchildren said to be younger than 12 were killed in Tripoli, the spokesman told reporters, according to reports.

The deaths could not be independently verified.

This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country, said spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, according to Agence France Presse.

NATO denied the charge.

All NATO's targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Gaddafi regime's systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals, said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard in a statement.

Ibrahim said there were some other injuries.

The leader himself is in good health; he wasn't harmed. His wife is also in good health; she wasn't harmed. Other people were injured, the spokesman said.

NATO said it regretted any killings of innocents.

We regret all loss of live, especially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict, Bouchard said.

AFP reporter W.G. Dunlop said three loud explosions were heard in Tripoli on Saturday evening as jets flew over.

The spokesman said the bombing took place on at the home of Gaddafi's son, where the Colonel, and other relatives were.

Bouchard issued a warning to civilians about being in close proximity to Gaddafi and military targets.

I want to remind again all civilians in Libya to distance themselves as much as possible from Gaddafi regime forces, equipment and known military infrastructure to reduce the potential danger to them, Bouchard said.