Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

Lib2011-135

Incident date

August 5, 2011

Location

مسكن مصطفى ناجي المرابط, Mustafa Naji Al Morabit, Murqub, Libya

Geolocation

32.472842, 14.489344 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Two children and their mother were allegedly killed in a NATO airstrike on Zliten.

The Telegraph said: “Residents from the town said the strike happened just after 6am, killing brothers Mohammed, three, and Moataz, five, and their mother Ibtisam.

Moussa Ibrahim, Libyan government spokesman, accused Nato of bombing civilian targets frequently.

He said: In the city of Zlitan, you saw with your own eyes the dead bodies of small children and their mother, there are many other examples around the country.

‘Unfortunately we are only able to take you to some scenes of these crimes, these take place everyday, sometimes whole families are killed, sometimes individuals.’

The Ministry of Defence said it had carried out air strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday against buildings, staging posts and a tank being used by Gaddafi forces near Zlitan.”

NDTV reported on a possibly related strike in the area without mentioning civilian harm: “A senior Libyan government official has denied rebel reports that Moammar Gaddafi’s youngest son was killed in a NATO airstrike on the western town of Zlitan.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim says Khamis Gaddafi is alive and spoke to Libyan government officials to confirm his well-being.”

An Amnesty International report later found: “On 4 August 2011 at about 6.30am the home of Mustafa Naji al-Morabit, in Zlitan west of Misratah, was struck, killing his 37-year-old wife, Ibtisam, and two of his three children, three-year-old Mo’taz and six-year-old Mohammed, as well as injuring his 60-year-old mother, Fatima ‘Omar Mansur. According to information provided by Mustafa Naji al-Morabit to Amnesty International, a nearby house (approximately 50 metersaway) had been used, until 1 August 2011, for meetings by military officers. Because they feared that the nearby house may be attacked by NATO, Mustafa Naji al-Morabit and his family had not been sleeping in their own home. They remained in the house during the day as it was common belief that NATO strikes were carried out at night. As opposition fighters were closing in on the area, the owner of the nearby house and others who had been meeting there fled by 2 August 2011, leaving the front gate wide open – a sign that they were not going to return. The al-Morabit family decided that it was therefore safe to return to their home and slept in their home for the first time on the night between 2 and 3 August 2011. The night passed without incident and the nearby house remained abandoned and the al-Morabit family again slept in their home the following night (between 3 and 4 August 2011), but the house was struck in the early hours of that morning.”

The NGO added: “In its 15 February 2012 letter to the ICIL, NATO referred to the above incident stating that the site was in fact struck on 4 August 2011, because it had been identified as ‘a senior regime commander’s command and control node located within a residential property’. Based on its examination of the site, interviews with witnesses and satellite images the ICIL found that ‘evidence suggests NATO hit the wrong building (and) that those killed were civilians’. Amnesty International reached the same conclusions.”

A Human Rights Watch investigation quoted the father saying: “Around 6:30 a.m., I heard an explosion, a terrible sound. I got up, and dust was falling all over; I couldn’t see in front of me. I was trying to reach my children and family, but I kept falling down. I reached the main road, and with the help of neighbors, we tried to lift the blocks and reach my family.

The first one we reached was my wife; we found her dead in her place. And then we got to my mother who was still alive, wounded in the left leg and right shoulder. Then we found [my son] Naji, who was alive. Mohamed, five years old, we found next to him still alive. I had no strength to continue and looked to others to save my family. They took Mohamed to the hospital, but he died before he got there; they say he suffocated from the dust. Then they found [my other son] Moataz, three years old. His brain was out of his head; I saw it. My house is demolished. My children are dead.”

The report added: “Al-Morabit and neighborhood residents initially said that no Gaddafi forces were in the area at the time of the attack. But in a subsequent interview on December 7, 2011, without the presence of a government minder, they said that the house next door had housed Gaddafi military personnel until August 2, two days before the attack. At the al-Morabit house itself, they said, they knew of no military equipment or personnel. A Human Rights Watch inspection of the house and yard on August 7 revealed no signs of military activity or material; however, evidence of a military target could potentially have been moved.

According to al-Morabit and two neighbors, interviewed separately, Libyan military personnel had used the large house next door to the al-Morabit house since late June. When the personnel moved into the house, al-Morabit said, he and his family began sleeping at his brother’s house, fearing a NATO attack in the area. He did not know how many military personnel and from which forces had moved into the neighboring house.”

NATO reported hitting “1 Military Radar Site, 1 Military Storage Facility” in Zliten on August 5th in its operational update.

The incident occured at approximately 6:30 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (4)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    NATO forces
  • Suspected target
    Gaddafi forces

Sources (24) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Destroyed Morabit family home in Zliten after NATO airstrike on August 5th, 2011 (via Amnesty International)
  • Killed Morabit family members after NATO airstrike in Zliten on August 5th, 2011 (via Amnesty International)
  • Killed Morabit family members after NATO airstrike in Zliten on August 5th, 2011 (via Amnesty International)
  • Killed and injured Morabit children after NATO airstrike in Zliten on August 5th, 2011 (via Amnesty International)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    The three victims of the the NATO strikes on the Morabit family home in Zliten on August 4th, 2011 (Youssef Shaftar)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the house of Mustafa Naji Al Morabit (مسكن مصطفى ناجي المرابط) being struck, within the city of Zlitan (زليتن), the exact location of which has been published by New York Times and Human Rights Watch. The exact coordinates are: 32.472842, 14.489344.

  • Reports of the incident mention the house of Mustafa Naji Al Morabit (مسكن مصطفى ناجي المرابط) being struck, within the city of Zlitan (زليتن), the exact location of which has been published by New York Times and Human Rights Watch.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

NATO forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    NATO forces
  • NATO forces position on incident
    Under investigation
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

NATO forces
  • Jan 8, 2012
  • This target had been identified as a regime senior commander’s command and control node, located within a residential property four miles west of Zlitan. At no time were civilians intentionally targeted. The target building and buildings immediately adjacent to it were used exclusively by senior regime commanders as an active command and control facility directing forces in the Zlitan area. The structure was positively identified and one precision guided weapon was dropped on 4 August. Review of intelligence confirms that the correct and intended building was struck, and assessment of the claimed civilian casualties at the time concluded that this was highly unlikely. This incident is under further assessment.

Original strike reports

NATO forces

In the vicinity of Zlitan: 1 Military Radar Site, 1 Military Storage Facility.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    NATO forces
  • Suspected target
    Gaddafi forces

Sources (24) [ collapse]