U.S. rescue chopper shoots six Libyan villagers as they welcome pilots of downed Air Force jet

Six Libyan villagers are recovering in hospital after being shot by American soldiers coming in to rescue the U.S. pilots whose plane crash-landed in a field.

The helicopter strafed the ground as it landed in a field outside Benghazi beside the downed U.S. Air Force F-15E Eagle which ran into trouble during bombing raid last night.

And a handful of locals who had come to greet the pilots were hit – among them a young boy who may have to have a leg amputated because of injuries caused by a bullet wound.

The first confirmed casualties of the allied operation, the Channel Four’s International Editor Lindsey Hilsum confirmed the civilian casualties.

The crew of the fighter plane had enjoyed a miraculous escape after suffering suspected mechanical failure during the third night of air strikes on Colonel Gaddafi’s military positions.

As one crew member was surrounded by locals, he held his arms out, calling ‘okay, okay’, according to the Evening Standard – but the grateful Libyans queued to thank him and give him juice.

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