Errant NATO airstrike hits Tripoli apartments; 9 dead
NATO said Sunday it was probably responsible for an airstrike in a densely populated Tripoli neighborhood that Libyan authorities said killed nine people and injured 18.
Syria: The Obama administration, seeking new ways to force the Syrian leadership to halt its violent crackdown on domestic dissent, is examining whether war-crimes charges can be brought against President Bashar Assad, senior administration officials said. Syrian troops Sunday combed rebellious villages near the Turkish border and set fire to homes and a bakery, cutting off a lifeline to thousands of uprooted people stranded in encampments. The military carried out mass arrests and threw up checkpoints in the village of Bdama and surrounding areas to block residents from fleeing.
Egypt: Calls are growing for a delay of September's parliamentary elections to give parties formed after Hosni Mubarak's ouster more time to organize. The push, which now has the prime minister's backing, is aimed at keeping the Muslim Brotherhood from dominating the next legislature.
Yemen: Yemeni security forces continued to battle Islamic extremists in southern Yemen, leaving at least 21 dead over the weekend, according to a military official and a local doctor. On Saturday, 12 extremists and two soldiers were killed during a clash in Zinjibar. Five other soldiers were killed there Sunday.
Tunisia: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose downfall triggered uprisings in the Arab world, has condemned his upcoming trial in absentia in Tunis as a "shameful masquerade." The former autocratic leader, in exile in Saudi Arabia, also said he didn't flee Tunisia but left to avoid "fratricidal and deadly confrontations." It was the first public statement from the 74-year-old Ben Ali in the five months since he left Tunisia.
Morocco: Pro-government demonstrators in Morocco attacked democracy activists protesting constitutional reforms recently unveiled by the king. Hundreds of youths pledging their support to King Mohammed VI scattered the pro-reform demonstrations taking place in a lower-income neighborhood in Rabat.
Seattle Times news services
TRIPOLI, Libya — NATO said Sunday it was probably responsible for an airstrike in a densely populated Tripoli neighborhood that Libyan authorities said killed nine people and injured 18.
The early-morning airstrike destroyed an apartment building, crushing sleeping residents beneath tons of debris, Libyan authorities said. Half a dozen other homes on the quiet street were also damaged.
NATO said "there may have been a weapons-system failure, which may have caused a number of civilian casualties." A military missile site was the intended target of the air raid, NATO said, but "one weapon" apparently went astray.
It was the alliance's first such admission in the three-month-long campaign of airstrikes against the military forces of Moammar Gadhafi.
The episode was NATO's second admission of a mistaken strike in two days. On Saturday, it acknowledged inadvertently hitting a rebel convoy of tanks and military vehicles moving around the front near the eastern oil port of Brega. That strike was NATO's third to accidentally hit rebels.
NATO officials have been talking openly of strains in the Libyan operation. In Washington, the mistaken strikes could bolster congressional criticisms that the operation is too unfocused or depends too much on ill-equipped European allies.
Late Sunday, Gadhafi sent a message to all members of the U.N. Security Council, holding them responsible "for this methodical extermination process," the state news agency Jana reported.
The Libyan government, capitalizing on the NATO mistake, bused journalists to the bomb site early Sunday as victims were still being pulled from the rubble.
Journalists, whose movements are tightly controlled here, were later taken to a hospital to see five of the dead, including two children — one a 9-month-old girl clad only in her diaper. Later Sunday, journalists were again brought to the bomb site.
"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," said Canadian Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of the Libya campaign. Investigators were still "determining the specifics of this event," Bouchard said.
"NATO said it has conducted 11,500 sorties "with tremendous care to minimize civilian casualties."
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