Update: US military shot villagers during Lakenheath rescue- claim

US military sources have refused to confirm or deny reports that US forces sent in to rescue two airmen after their plane crashed in Libya botched the mission and shot friendly villagers.

The plane, based at RAF Lakenheath, crashed on Monday at 9.30pm about 25 miles south-west of the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

A Marine Osprey search and rescue aircraft retrieved the pilot, while the second crew member, a weapons officer, was taken in by rebels and handed over to the US. Both suffered only minor injuries.

But it has been claimed that the rescue mission fired on Libyan villagers who were trying to help, wounding six of them and causing panic.

A Channel 4 News reporter in the country said the locals were in hospital.


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The two crew members were separated after ejecting from the Suffolk-based F-15E Strike Eagle jet at high altitude and drifting down to different locations. A mechanical fault has been blamed for the incident.

The aircraft was flying out of Italy's Aviano Air Base in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

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The US Air Force has B-2, F-15 and F-16 fighters participating in operations over Libya while the UK has deployed Tornados from RAF Marham and Typhoons.

A British reporter who was arrested at gunpoint by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's soldiers last week was due to be released last night.

Dave Clark, 38, was held with two other Western journalists after they ran into a military convoy on the road to the city of Ajdabiya in the east of the country on Saturday. A spokesman for Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency last night confirmed the group were due to be set free within hours.

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