NATO Says Errant Airstrike May Have Killed Civilians

Libyan officials claim nine people were killed, including two children.

June 19, 2011 — -- NATO acknowledged that one of its airstrikes in the Libyan capital of Tripoli may have killed civilians early this morning, due to a "weapons system failure," according to the Associated Press.

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi told reporters that nine civilians, including two children, were killed when NATO warplanes struck a residential village. Libyan officials rushed Tripoli-based reporters to the scene of the building that was hit early in the morning, and escorted them back during the day.

Children's toys, teacups and dust-covered mattresses could be seen amid the rubble, as well as the bodies of at least four people said to have been killed in the strike.

"After [seeing the destroyed building], we were taken to Tripoli's central hospital," said BBC reporter Jeremy Bowen. "A husband and wife and a baby, all dead, were in the mortuary. Medical staff said they were killed in the attack. Another dead baby was brought in. Doctors were working on a man with a bad wound on his arm."

"Libyan officials said there were other casualties," Bowen said. "The government spokesman said the attack had planted seeds of hatred."

The Libyan foreign minister called the bombing "deliberate" and said it should be "a direct call for all free peoples of the world and for all Muslims to initiate a global jihad against the oppressive, criminal West and never to allow such criminal organizations as NATO to decide the future of other independent and sovereign nations."

"NATO confirms that it was operating in Tripoli last night, conducting airstrikes against a legitimate military target," Wing Commander Mike Bracken said in a statement. "NATO deeply regrets any civilian loss of life during this operation and would be very sorry if the review of this incident concluded it to be a NATO weapon."

NATO has repeatedly insisted it tries to avoid killing civilians.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.