According to the Libyan newspaper Quryna, a Libyan air force plane crashed near the eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday after its crew refused to carry out orders to bomb the city, which is in opposition hands, Reuters reports.
The newspaper, which has now reportedly taken the side of the opposition,reported on its Web site that a colonel at an air base near Benghazi, said the two pilots, Attia Abdel Salem al Abdali and Ali Omar Qaddafi, had bailed out of their Soviet-era fighter jet near the city of Ajdabiya rather than obey the order to strafe Benghazi.
The reported crash follows a decision by the pilots of two other Libyan air force jets to fly to Malta rather than take part in attacks on protesters. The Malta Independent reported on Wednesday:
The two Libyan colonels who defected to Malta in Mirage supersonic jets are still being interviewed by the security services.
It has also been learned that the fighters – not quite top-notch aircraft, but still potent weapons – remain the property of Libya. However, it is understood that they will remain impounded until the situation in North Africa settles, a high-ranking Army source told this newspaper.
The newspaper added that, according to a Maltese military source, “the jets, recently refurbished under an agreement signed by Qaddafi and Nikolas Sarkozy, broke out of formation when their squadron was ordered to attack Libyan civilians.”