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LIBYA: Government asks Malta to return defectors' fighter jets

February 25, 2011 |  2:47 am

R722515_5752061Libya has formally requested that the Maltese government return two fighter jets that were flown to the small island nation Monday by defecting Libyan pilots,  media reports say.

But Malta has yet to respond to the request, reported the Malta Independent Online, quoting government sources.

The French-made Mirage F1 fighter jets are under armed guard at a Maltese airport, and the two pilots have applied for political asylum, according to the Times of Malta. The pilots said they defected to the Mediterranean nation after they were ordered to bomb protesters in Benghazi on Libya's northern coast.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: A Libyan air force pilot stands next to his fighter jet after landing at Malta International Airport. Credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters

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