Libyan officials have claimed that 15 civilians have been killed by a NATO bomb attack to the west of Tripoli on Sunday.
Foreign journalists have been taken by Libyan government officials to a walled compound, where at least two buildings had been reportedly reduced to rubble. Huge craters could be seen in the ground, and another building outside the compound, next to a communications tower, had also been flattened.
According to AP, journalists were also taken by officials to a hospital in the nearby city of Sabratha, where the bodies of about eight to 10 people were shown, allegedly killed in the strike.
NATO confirmed Sunday that its missiles missed its intended target and instead struck a residential area in Tripoli. Initial reports are blaming a “weapons failure” for the tragedy.
The intended target was a nearby missile site, however NATO has said that “it appears that one weapon” did not hit it. Fifteen casualties have been reported by Libyan officials, which they claim includes three children.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has warned, however, that NATO was risking its military credibility by making such serious blunders that lead to civilian casualties.
Frattino said, “NATO's credibility is at stake, you can't run the risk of killing civilians, this is something that is absolutely unacceptable but neither can you have this continued lack of communication.
“We are not properly informing [Libyan] public opinion which can't compete with Colonel Gaddafi's daily media propaganda and NATO needs to think about that.”
NATO released a statement Monday, from Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO’s operations over Libya, apologizing for the incident.
Bouchard said, “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.”
The news of civilian casualties has come as Congress continues to debate U.S. involvement in NATO’s campaign in Libya.
House Speaker John Boehner last week claimed that President Obama was in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution because Congress had not authorized military action in Libya nor declared war on the nation.