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Libya: NATO admits to air strike that killed civilians

NATO admitted Monday one of its air strikes hit a house in Tripoli this weekend where Libyan officials say nine civilians were killed and 18 wounded.

NATO said in a statement it intended to hit a military missile site, but one of its weapons apparently did not strike the target, reports Reuters. It suggested a “weapons system failure” was to blame.

“NATO regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens,” reportedly said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO’s operations over Libya.

“Although we are still determining the specifics of this event, indications are that a weapons system failure may have caused this incident.”

Libyan government officials earlier accused NATO of a raid early Sunday morning that destroyed a house in Tripoli’s Souk al-Juma residential district. A three-storey house was reduced to rubble at the scene of the alleged raid in Arada, a neighborhood in Souk al-Juma.

Libyan officials said the dead included two toddlers.

Journalists were taken to the house and then to see bodies at the hospital.

The incident could prompt questions on the impact of NATO’s operation in Libya, the BBC reports. NATO is operating under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians and has led a bombing campaign over Libya for the past 11 weeks.

This is the first time NATO has acknowledged culpability for an air strike that killed civilians, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Furthermore, this comes at a time when NATO is under strain due to the operation taking more time and resources than originally anticipated.

“Basically, this is another night of murder, terror and horror in Tripoli caused by NATO,” Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters Sunday, according to Reuters.

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