Air Attack Pounds Libyan Rebel Formation; 2 Dead

At least two people died after aircraft fired missiles at a rebel formation on the eastern Libyan battlefront, witnesses said Thursday, an act that left opposition forces wondering whether NATO aircraft conducted a mistaken airstrike on the forces they are trying to protect.

It's unclear whether Libyan aircraft or the alliance conducted the strike, between al-Brega and Ajdabiya, but there haven't been Libyan air force planes in the skies for some time because NATO aircraft have established a no-fly zone.

A NATO representative in Brussels, Belgium, said the coalition is looking into the report.

If it was in fact a NATO strike, rebels say it would have been the second in a week's time. Last week, airstrikes hit several rebel vehicles and killed at least 13 rebel fighters in the al-Brega area, a spokesman for the Libyan opposition said. That report was under investigation by NATO.

Members of the opposition said they have been disappointed with NATO's performance, but NATO said weather conditions and tactics by the Gadhafi regime, such as using human shields and hiding equipment in populated areas, have hindered their efforts.

The latest violence comes in a deadly stalemate as pro-Moammar Gadhafi forces battle opposition fighters demanding democracy and an end to Gadhafi's nearly 42-year-rule, and rebel fighters and pro-Gadhafi forces have been pushing back and forth between the coastal cities of al-Brega and Ajdabiya.

In the capital of Tripoli, four explosions were heard and two aircraft could be seen overhead on Thursday.

A British airstrike hit an oil field in the eastern Libyan town of Sarir on Wednesday, causing damage to a main pipeline, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told reporters.
CNN