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LIBYA: Colonels defected to Malta rather than bomb protesters

February 21, 2011 | 10:27 am

Aljazeera

The pilots of two Libyan military jets that landed in Malta on Monday are "senior colonels" who were ordered to bomb protesters, Al Jazeera satellite network reports.

The colonels say they refused to bomb protesters demonstrating against Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi and instead defected to Malta, according to Al Jazeera reporter Karl Stagno-Novarra in Malta.

The pilots reportedly told Maltese officials they were based in Tripoli and ordered to attack protesters in Benghazi.  After seeing fellow pilots begin bombing, the colonels changed course and headed for Malta, according to Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera has been relaying eyewitness reports of airstrikes Monday, but cautioned that the bombings  could not be verified.

Clashes in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Monday left 160 dead, Al Arabiya network quoted eyewitnesses as saying Monday.

Related:

European Union condemns Libya violence; protests flare in Tripoli

LIBYA: U.S. issues travel warning, begins evacuating personnel

Video, photos appear to show protests turning violent in Libya

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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