Witnesses differ on shooting during U.S. rescue
A high-ranking Navy officer tells CBS News Correspondent David Martin an investigation is underway into the rescue of one of two downed American crew members whose F-15 fighter crashed over Libya.
During a briefing Tuesday, Admiral Samuel Locklear, refused to address a British television report that several Libyan civilians were shot by the crew of a Marine Osprey aircraft during the rescue.
Locklear did say, "the recovery mission was executed as I would have expected it to be, given the circumstances."Complete coverage: Anger in the Arab World
The two crew members safely ejected from the fighter jet, which the Pentagon said was on strike mission against government missile site.
One of the pilots parachuted into a rocky field and hid in a sheep pen on Hamid Moussa el-Amruni's family farm.
"We didn't think it was an American plane. We thought it was a Qaddafi plane. We started calling out to the pilot, but we only speak Arabic. We looked for him and found the parachute. A villager came who spoke English and he called out 'we are here, we are with the rebels' and then the man came out," Hamid Moussa el-Amruni said.
The pilot left in a car with the Benghazi national council, taking with him the water and juice the family provided. They kept his helmet and the parachute.
A second plane reportedly strafed the field where the pilot went down. Hamid Moussa el-Amruni himself said he was shot, suffered shrapnel wounds in his leg and back, but he could still walk. He used an old broomstick as a crutch and said he held no grudge, believing it was an accident.
He said the second crew member came down in a different field and was picked up by a helicopter, an account that coincided with the U.S. explanation of the rescue.
Other accounts differed as to injuries, however.
CBS's Mandy Clark arrived at the scene and spoke to an eyewitness, who said there was some firing but absolutely no one was injured.
"He said he would understand why there might be firing if the Americans were on the ground," Clark told CBS Radio News.
"He certainly didn't think the shooting was against civilians , perhaps more of a warning firing to tell people to back off and stay away from the wreckage and to stay away from the pilot and the weapons officer," Clark said.
Another witness told Clark that the Americans fired on their own plane that was down, perhaps in an effort to destroy it so none of the weaponry or technology could be seized by other forces.
Witnesses told Clark that right after the plane crashed, there were flares shot by other planes, which can sometimes serve as a a warning for civilians to stay away from an area. These villagers were not aware of that.
The crash was the first major loss for the U.S. and European military air campaign, which over three nights appears to have hobbled Gadhafi's air defenses and artillery and rescued the rebels from impending defeat.
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