Friendly Libyans Injured in US Jet Rescue

Bombs dropped during mission to rescue downed airmen
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Suggested by stephinrazin
Posted Mar 23, 2011 4:58 AM CDT
Libyans inspect the wreckage of a US F15 fighter jet after it crashed in an open field in the village of Bu Mariem, east of Benghazi.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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(Newser) – The US military is facing questions over this week's mission to rescue two airmen following reports that several Libyan civilians were injured in the operation. The airmen ejected after their F-15 malfunctioned and landed in separate locations in rebel-held territory. Villagers claim shots were fired during one rescue and bombs dropped during another, wounding several people with shrapnel. The military denies shots were fired but admits that two 500-pound bombs were dropped to provide cover during the operation, reports the New York Times.

The pilot was retrieved by rebel forces after landing in a farmer's field, hiding in a sheep's pen until he realized the locals were friendly. "He was very relaxed," the farmer tells AP. "We greeted him and brought him a doctor as well as water and juice, which he took with him in the car." The farmer says he was injured by shrapnel in the leg and back when the bombs were dropped, but he's not holding a grudge. "They bombed us randomly to bring the mercenaries out, because they wanted to rescue the pilot," he says. "We thank the forces of the coalition, the United States and France."

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