Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

Lib2011-137

Incident date

August 8, 2011

Location

مجمعات قفوز وجرود السكنية, Gafuz and Jarud residential compounds, Murqub, Libya

Geolocation

32.374252, 14.577292 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Between 34 and 85 civilians were allegedly killed in NATO airstrikes on the Majer area of Zliten. The event marks the biggest reported loss of civilian life from NATO strikes during the first Libyan Civil War.

An Amnesty International field investigation found: “On the evening of 8 August 2011 two houses were struck in Majer (near Zlitan, west of Misratah). Munitions remnants found at the site contain the marking: ‘for MK82 bomb’, an air-delivered munition which, according to Amnesty International’s information, was used by participating forces in Operation Unified Protector in numerous other strikes. According to members of the family who survived the attack, 34 civilians, including eight children and eight women, were killed and several were injured in three separate attacks.”

A BBC story confirms the times given by Amnesty International: “For Libya’s government, what happened south of Zlitan in the village of Majar is proof that Nato, contrary to its mandate, is not protecting civilians. Officials believe the alliance is engaged in regime change, at whatever cost. Almost 48 hours after the first strike hit the cluster of buildings in the countryside to the south of Zlitan, Nato said it had completed its assessment of what happened. It confirmed it had hit the area, targeting four buildings and nine vehicles at the site between 23.33 on Monday and 02.34 on Tuesday. The times for the strikes correspond with those given by people in the area.”

Human Rights Watch reported the same number of casualties from its own investigation saying: “Beginning around 11:30 p.m. on August 8, 2011, during Ramadan, NATO aircraft dropped bombs on four houses in Majer, a rural village about 10 kilometers south of the town of Zliten. The first bomb hit a large, two-story house owned by Ali Hamid Gafez, a 61-year-old farmer. Gafez, his relatives and neighbors told Human Rights Watch that the house was crowded at the time with people who had fled the fighting in nearby areas, such as Dafniya, Zdow, and Naima, as well as Benghazi. A report prepared by the families of the victims said the Gafez house held 82 people on the night of the attack. They said the strike killed 14 of these people and wounded 17.”

It added: “Some moments after the first strike, NATO bombs hit two houses in a nearby compound belonging to the al-Jarud family. One of the bombs killed three women and a baby girl of the family, relatives and witnesses said. Family members and neighbors came rushing to help. Between 10 and 20 minutes later, another bomb struck just outside the al-Jarud compound. This bomb killed 18 men and wounded 15 others who had come to help. […] A fourth bomb then hit a nearby house owned by Mohamed Musbah al-Jarud, which was unoccupied at the time.”

The NGO further reported that “in the course of its investigation, including the day after the attack, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of military activity at either of the compounds, such as weapons, ammunition, or communications equipment that would have suggested a military target.”

On the munitions used, it said: “During its December 2011 visit, Human Rights Watch inspected remnants of the bombs that the families said had hit their homes, including fins from a GBU-12 laser guided bomb. These bombs use a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), a type of high-zoom night vision with an infrared camera and a laser designator to target the bomb, which would have allowed the pilot to guide the bombs to the target. Indeed, NATO told Human Rights Watch that it used precision-guided munitions in the strike, all of which reached their target.”

The Alma’em tribes condolence pages said: “There are also a large number of the wounded and the seriously injured, some of them who lost a limb and some who lost his vision, and among the injured are children, women and men who came to help children and women.”

The Majer Zliten Massacre condolence page put the death toll at 36 and the injuries at 38, most of them women and children.

Media close to the Gaddafi regime put the death toll at 85. Quoting Dr Moussa Ibrahim, Libyan Government Spokesperson in Majer Town at the time, these included 33 children, 20 men and 32 women. The BBC said on the numbers: “Civilians were injured – and it seems killed. The government says 33 of them were children. But they showed international journalists the bodies of just two.” For Libya’s then-government, what happened south of Zlitan in the village of Majar was claimed to be proof that Nato, contrary to its mandate, was not protecting civilians. Officials said they believed the alliance was engaged in regime change, at whatever cost.

Almost 48 hours after the first strike hit the cluster of buildings in the countryside to the south of Zlitan, Nato said it had completed its assessment of what had happened. It confirmed it had hit the area, targeting four buildings and nine vehicles at the site between 23.33 on Monday and 02.34 on Tuesday. It has never publicly accepted causing civilian harm in this event.

Airwars later spoke to the father of one of the victims for a joint investigation with Foreign Policy: “‘Then everything was black, we couldn’t see anything. After the smoke subsided it was clear the second floor was destroyed,’ Juwaili told Foreign Policy.
The men rushed forward, searching through the rubble for survivors. Fifteen minutes later, another strike killed many of the rescuers.
Juwaili hunted frantically for his 2-year-old daughter, Arwa, eventually finding her lifeless under the rubble. ‘Thank God her body was not ripped apart,’ he said.”

Another relative of a victim, interviewed for an article in Responsible Statecraft, told Airwars: “‘My message to NATO is that they have to come and witness the amount of destruction they left behind,’ Mariam Jaroud, whose sister lost a leg in the attack, told Responsible Statecraft. ‘Many of the families lost dear ones, others became orphans and we are still suffering.'”

The incident occured between 11:33 pm and 2:34 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (8)

Family members (4)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    34 – 85
  • (8–33 children8–32 women18–20 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    32–38
  • 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 (47) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (28) [ collapse]

  • Pictures of alleged victims of NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Alleged victim of NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Pictures of alleged victims of NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Alleged victim of NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Pictures of alleged victims of NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Pictures of alleged victims of NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Alleged victim of NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Ahmed Muhammad al-Raqiq, allegedly killed by NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Children allegedly killed in NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Munition allegedly used in NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Victims allegedly killed by NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • Victims allegedly killed by NATO airstrikes in Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Zliten Majer Massacre)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • House allegedly destroyed by NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • Body bags at Zliten Hospital after NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)
  • Body bags at Zliten Hospital after NATO airstrikes on Majer on August 8th, 2011 (via Global Research)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention multiple strikes on residential compounds in the village of Majer (مــــاجر). The house of Gafuz (جافوز) at 32.374631, 14.574858, the house of Jarud (الحعرود) at 32.373767, 14.578633, and a third building of undisclosed owner ship at 32.37540, 14.57595 . The exact location of which has been published by New York Times and Human Rights Watch. The generic coordinates between these three points are 32.374252, 14.577292.

  • Reports of the incident mention multiple strikes on residential compounds in the village of Majer (مــــاجر). The house of Gafuz (جافوز), the house of Jarud (الحعرود), and a third building of undisclosed ownership. 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
  • Mar 8, 2012
  • The four buildings assessed in the questions relating to Majer were deliberate targets, based on their functioning as a troop staging area. They were located within a farm compound in a rural area. On the basis of observation and other intelligence, it was assessed that no civilians were in the area, and none were observed at the time of the attack or of the subsequent re-strike of one of those buildings. If civilians had been identified, standard procedure was to abort the drop or, if noticed after time of release, to direct a laser-guided weapon away from the target area. This incident is under further assessment.

Original strike reports

NATO forces

In the vicinity of Zlitan: 1 Military Facility, 1 Communications System.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    34 – 85
  • (8–33 children8–32 women18–20 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    32–38
  • 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 (47) [ collapse]