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Libya - 21 Feb 2011, Libyan Air Force Mirage Jets Defect to Malta, 21/02/2011

[postlink] https://anonymoustube.blogspot.com/2011/02/libya-21-feb-2011-libyan-air-force.html[/postlink] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGro4oOgr4Qendofvid [starttext]Two Libyan Air Force Mirage jet fighters on Monday unexpectedly flew to Malta with their pilots claiming they escaped to Malta after having been ordered to bomb protesters who have taken control of the second city of Benghazi.

The pilots told the Maltese authorities that they left from a base near Tripoli. Their aircraft were armed with air to ground rockets.

The pilots initially asked for emergency clearance to land and for refuelling, according to the Maltese newspaper. Upon landing they were questioned by the police and sought political asylum.

Casualties:

Residents of Benghazi told Al Jazeera that at least 200 people had died, while the New York-based Human Rights Watch put the country wide death toll at a "conservative" 104 on 19 February, while a update on 22 February stated that there were at least 62 casualties. They also suggested the actual deaths in Benghazi had probably passed 100 on 20 February. Other sources list the number of deaths to be 220 in Benghazi alone. The unrest had left at least 233 people dead in Libya, according to Human Rights Watch, citing various Libyan hospital sources on 22 February.

The International Coalition Against War Criminals reported 519 deaths, 3,980 wounded protesters and possibly over 1,500 missing during the protests.

21 February:

Saif al-Islam Muammar Al-Gaddafi called for a "general assembly" to discuss grievances.

In Benghazi, protesters took control of the streets, and looted weapons from the main security headquarters. Demonstrators also lowered the Libyan flag from above the main courthouse and replaced it with the flag of the country's old monarchy. Air Force warplanes and attack helicopters launched airstrikes on protesters, reportedly targeting a funeral procession and a group of protesters trying to reach an army base. Two senior mutineering air force pilots flew their Mirage F1 fighter jets to Malta and requested political asylum after defying orders to bomb protesters. Two civilian helicopters also landed in Malta, carrying seven passengers who claimed to be French oil workers.

Reports indicated the People's Hall in Tripoli, which serves as the meeting place for the General People's Congress, had been set on fire. There were also reports that the state television building had been smashed up by protesters and that at least one Tripoli police station was burned down. Navy warships were reported to have begun bombardment of residential areas causing an unknown number of casualties. Banks and other government buildings were looted throughout the day as the city's death toll rose to at least 61.

Some people alleged that they were offered money to turn up for pro-Gaddafi rallies outside Libya. Within Libya, state-run television showed pro-Gaddafi rallies, though the international media doubted the authenticity of these protests as possibly having been staged.

There were reports that Gaddafi had fled Tripoli after the People's Hall and the state television headquarters were overrun and burned by protesters -- according to rumours he had fled either to the town of Sebha or to Venezuela. British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said that he had received information that Muammar al-Gaddafi had left Libya and was travelling to Venezuela. Venezuelan government officials denied reports that Muammar Gaddafi had left Libya and was on a plane bound for Caracas.

BBC News reported that the Libyan Army is "fighting forces loyal to [Colonel] Gaddafi, who appears to be struggling to hold on to power." A group of army officers also called upon their fellow soldiers to "join the people" and remove Gaddafi from office. Islamic leaders and clerics in Libya urged all Muslims to rebel against Gaddafi. The ambassador to Poland stated that the flood of defections by elements of the Army and Air Force, as well as by government ministers, cannot be stopped and that Gaddafi days in power are numbered. He also said that firing on the protestors was only increasing the unrest and that it is the sign of a dying regime. Libyan ambassadors to Indonesia, Bangladesh, the EU, and India also resigned in protest of the actions of the Gaddafi regime.

LTT Wimax internet, Al Madar mobile phone service, and text messaging services were restored in the Tripoli area at 01:30.

Hactivist group Anonymous issued a second statement calling on the international community to confirm within 24 hours an intent to close Libyan airspace to protect civilians, and to "provide secured transport of medical supplies to major population centers."




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Libya Libia Libyan Benghazi Tripoli Protests Street Demonstrations Gaddafi Qadafi Saif al-Islam Uprising Revolution Mobilize Police Brutality Unemployment Raise Minimum Wage Housing Food Inflation Corruption Freedom Of Speech Living Conditions Civil Unrest Government Death Self-immolation Human Rights Tear Gas Activists Air Force Mirage Jets Airstrikes Defect Malta February 17 2011[endtext]
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