Friendly Fire: NATO Airstrike Kills 13 Rebels

It's 'regrettable,' but airstrikes must continue: Anti-Gadhafi forces
By Luke Kelly-Clyne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2011 12:48 PM CDT
A Libyan rebel shouts slogans before heading toward the front line near Brega.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
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(Newser) – Libyan rebels are reporting what looks to be the biggest incidence of friendly fire since the conflict began. They say a NATO airstrike mistakenly hit rebel vehicles near the city of Brega, killing at least 13 anti-Gadhafi fighters, reports Reuters. A rebel spokesman called it "regrettable" but said the airstrikes must continue. "You have to look at the big picture. Mistakes will happen. We are trying to get rid of Gadhafi and there will be casualties, although of course it does not make us happy." NATO says it's investigating.

It's unclear what happened, but the BBC says a rebel may have triggered the attack by firing an anti-aircraft gun in celebration. Another fighter gives a slightly different take to Reuters: "Some of Gadhafi's forces sneaked in among the rebels and fired anti-aircraft guns in the air. After that the NATO forces came and bombed them." And a NATO spokeswoman suggests that something along those lines happened, notes AP: "Clearly, if someone fires at one of our aircraft they have the right to defend themselves."

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