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A Libyan man stands in debris from a damaged residential building hit in the NATO airstrike Ivan Sekretarev/AP/Press Association Images

NATO says "weapons system failure" killed Libyan civilians

Two children were among nine people killed by an airstrike which NATO says went astray.

NATO HAS SAID that it “regrets the loss of innocent civilians” after admitting that one of its airstrikes went astray, killing nine people, including two children in Tripoli.

The Libyan government yesterday took journalists to a hospital to show them some of the bodies of those killed including two small children, accusing NATO of bombing a residential neighbourhood.

The trans-Atlantic alliance issued a statement last night saying that airstrikes were launched against a military missile site in Tripoli, but “it appears that one weapon did not strike the intended target and that there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties”.

Lt. General Charles Bouchard, commander of the anti-Libya operation has said that NATO “takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens”.

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi said that the strike was “a deliberate attack on a civilian neighbourhood” and follows other alleged targeting of non-military targets such as a hotel, an oxygen factory and civilian vehicles.

Before Sunday’s alleged strike, Libya’s Health Ministry said 856 civilians had been killed in NATO air attacks since they began in March. The figure could not be independently confirmed. Previous government tolls from individual strikes have proved exaggerated.

NATO’s admission of weapons failure is the second admission of a mistaken strike in two days. On Saturday it said it had accidentally hit a convoy of rebels, and that it was the third such incident, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

- Additional reporting by AP

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