Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NATO Air Strikes Hit Residential House, Kill Seven Civilians

19/06/2011 10:51:00

Workers in this Reuters picture seen doing their best to search for survivors among the rubble of the destroyed building

A few hours after NATO acknowledged that its aircrafts mistakenly hit a column of rebel military vehicles near the Libyan oil town of Brega on Thursday, it did it again, overnight, when it mistakenly hit a residential building in eastern Tripoli, the Libyan capital, killing at least seven civilians, according to government sources.

Up till now NATO has issued no statements about this latest incident other than that it is looking into the air strike allegations. But most probably it will say it regretted any possible loss of life or injuries caused by another unfortunate incident, as it did the last time.

However, the latest incident that occurred just after midnight, local time, could be a blow to NATO's campaign which is aiding rebels fighting the regime of Muammar AL Qathafi at a time when the Western alliance is debating how to sustain its mission.

The residential three-storey building NATO's air strike destroyed is in the Arada neighbourhood in the Souq al-Juma district, which is known for anti-Al Qathafi sentiment, and that in recent weeks had been showing its displeasure at Libyan leader's rule, through demonstrations.

About 90 minutes after hearing the explosion, foreign journalists were taken by Libyan government officials to a residential area in the Arada neighbourhood of Tripoli where a body of a man was being pulled out of the rubble.

Rescue workers could be seen sorting through the rubble of a building that according to reports belonged to an extended family, made up of five families. Another dead body had already been pulled out when the journalists arrived. They were also shown a wounded child.

Compared to other occasions where crowds in NATO-hit areas made spontaneous demonstrations in favour of Al Qathafi, this time, the local residents that who were on the scene made no reaction except to try and clear heaps of rubble and chunks of shattered concrete in the hope that they could find survivors.

Deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim told reporters at the site."There was intentional and deliberate targeting of the civilian houses. This is another sign of the brutality of the West."

Journalists were also taken to a local hospital to be shown three more dead bodies, including a child, which government officials said were people killed in the air strike.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters at the hospital: "Basically, this is another night of murder, terror and horror in Tripoli caused by NATO."

“Is this protecting civilians,” Mr Ibrahim said. “Is this really searching for peace and democracy in Libya? To attack peaceful neighbourhoods of Tripoli and kill whole families?" he asked.

Mr Ibrahim wasn't immediately able to provide the number of casualties, but said there were no military facilities anywhere near the damaged building.

Just 24 hours before this latest incident, the Libyan government accused NATO of specifically targeting civilians in its campaign to aid rebels in their war against the Libyan regime.

The most recent figures from Libya's health ministry show 856 civilians have been killed in NATO air raids since they began in March. The figure could not be independently confirmed.

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