Did a NATO airstrike in Libya kill civilians?

NATO officials are investigating a claim by the Libyan government that one of their bombs struck a civilian residence killing 7 civilians.

For the record, the Libyan government has been less than accurate in detailing NATO "war crimes" since the conflict began. And at the moment, there is no way to verify that a NATO munition is to blame for the civilian deaths, or even if the casualties shown to reporters at a hospital were from the incident.


Whether they are confirmed accurate or not, the allegations are likely give Muammar Gaddafi's regime a fresh rallying point against the international intervention into Libya's civil war. Journalists based in the Libyan capital were rushed by government officials in the early hours of the morning to the destroyed building, which appeared to have been partially under construction.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim wasn't immediately able to provide the number of casualties, but said there were no military facilities anywhere near the damaged building. Journalists at the scene who were later taken to a hospital were shown at least four people said to be killed in the strike, including the two young children. Foreign journalists in Tripoli are not allowed to travel and report freely and are almost always shadowed by government minders. "There was intentional and deliberate targeting of the civilian houses," said deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim during a visit to the site shortly after reporters arrived. "This is another sign of the brutality of the West."

A NATO mission spokesman in Naples, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of NATO regulations, said Sunday that the alliance is aware of the reports and is investigating. But he said at the moment NATO does not know where in Tripoli the alleged airstrike occurred. The Gaddafi regime has made false claims in the past about NATO having caused civilian deaths, the spokesman added.

Even the most carefully planned, and well meaning bombing run can result in errors. Technically, killing civilians under any circumstances is a war crime - as we were continuously reminded by the European leftist governments in recent years. If this incident proves to be what the Libyans say, will they now arrest themselves and present themselves to be tried at the Hague?