So super sophisticated jet fighters are worried enough by small arms fire to return fire and straffe a whole column of cars and kill a dozen people. Small arms fire that can reach a few thousand feet in the air whereas the jets normally fly at over 10-30,000′ (unless they are Tornados doing low level flying). These are tiny bullets that by the time they reach the top of their trajectory have lost a lot of their momentum (if fired vertically). If fired at lower angles, they are even less likely to hit any plane.
These bullets are more likely to kill people on their own side than planes.
Bullets fired in the air will kill bystanders when they come down again, so long as the bullet isn’t fired straight up. If fired at an angle then their forward velocity doesn’t change, and that’s what kills and seriously injures. If fired vertically then it’s gravity and air resistance which affects the speed down (terminal velocity), so at most will cause injures and a few seriously sore heads but probably not many deaths.
However, doing some reading it seems it was a A10 Thunderbolt which fired at the rebels after they had fired with an anti-aircraft gun. So not a AK47 but something a lot more serious. In this case serves them right. And as Longrider says, this is what you get if you use untrained soldiers.
But I’ve been thinking – since Gaddafi’s forces can’t use tanks and heavy weaponry they’ve been taking the same route as the rebels, using flat bed trucks and similar cars & vans. That way they don’t become targets to the UN authorised aircraft enforcing the no-fly (or rather no heavy military) zone. I wonder if these “rebels” were actually Gaddafi forces attempting to shoot down a plane. Rebel forces have admitted that the killed were theirs but considering the lack of organisation and communication amongst the rebel forces they probably have little clue as to what’s going on.
In fact such a tactic would be a great way for Gaddafi forces to infiltrate rebel groups and then turn the tables. Just look disorganised and chaotic and carry around a rag bag of different weapons, vehicles, and clothes, then when inside bring out the proper guns.