Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Libyan pilots crash fighter jets instead of attacking their own people
UPDATE CNN: An opposition figure told CNN the pilot had been ordered to bomb oil fields southwest of Benghazi but refused and instead ejected from the plane.
The Libyan newspaper Quryna reported that two people were on board, and that both -- the pilot and co-pilot -- parachuted out, allowing the plane to crash into an uninhabited area west of Ajdabiya, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Benghazi. The newspaper cited military sources.
By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY
Two Libyan air force pilots bailed out of their fighter jet and let it crash today rather than obey orders to attack opposition-held Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, the website for the Libyan newspaper Quryna reports.
The website quotes an unidentified colonel in the air force control room near Benghazi as reporting that Capt. Attia Abdel Salem al Abdali and his second in command Ali Omar Gaddafi parachuted from their Russian-made Sukhoi-22 plane, which had taken off from an air base in Tripoli.
Quryna, which is based in Benghazi, is Libya's most reliable news outlet, Reuters reports. Although owned by a media group linked to Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, it has begun to report openly on events now that Tripoli has lot control of Benghazi, the new agency says.
The plane crashed near Ajdabiya, 100 miles southwest of Benghazi, the newspaper says.
One of the pilots was from Gadhafi's tribe, the Gadhadhfa, says Farag al-Maghrabi, a local resident who saw the pilots and the wreckage of the jet, the AP reports.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 6:01 AM