Skip to main content

11 killed as Libyan military plane crashes in Tunisia

By Laura Smith-Spark and Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
updated 8:16 AM EST, Fri February 21, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A Libyan deputy minister and senior Islamist figure is among those killed
  • NEW: An investigation shows that one of the engines was on fire, Libyan culture minister says
  • All 11 people on board the Libyan military plane died when it crashed in Tunisia
  • The Antonov aircraft was flying from Mitiga Airport in Libya, state media report

(CNN) -- A Libyan military plane crashed in Tunisia's Nabeul province Friday, killing all 11 people on board, the Libyan government said.

The plane was carrying five crew members, a doctor, three patients and two others who were accompanying them on the flight, Libyan officials said.

Among those killed was Sheikh Muftah Mabrook al Dwadi, a senior Islamist figure and deputy minister of Libya's Ministry of Martyrs' Affairs, the Libyan air force said.

Col. Ali Sheikhi, a Libyan military spokesman, said the plane crashed amid "mysterious circumstances."

Engine fire

The Libyan air force said an engine caught fire as the plane made a gradual descent into Tunis Carthage airport and the pilot tried to land it before reaching the airport.

Libya's culture minister, speaking on behalf of the government, confirmed the death of all 11 on board and also said an initial investigation indicated one of the engines was on fire, leading the whole plane to catch fire and crash.

A plane is being sent to bring the bodies of the victims home, the minister said in a post on the official Twitter account of Libya's interim government.

The director of Libya's civil aviation authority has been dispatched to Tunis to coordinate the investigation with Tunisian authorities, he said.

"We express our condolences to victims' families and hope investigations will reveal reasons behind the crash," he tweeted.

Air ambulance

The Libyan aircraft came down about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the capital, Tunis, near the town of Grombalia, Tunisian state news agency TAP reported.

Army units, a military medical team and civil protection workers were sent to the scene of the crash, the news agency said.

The plane was an Antonov An-26, which was flying from Mitiga Airport in Libya, TAP said.

Libyan officials said the plane, part of the country's air force, was used as an air ambulance to transport patients inside and outside of Libya.

Many Libyans are sent outside the country for treatment because of the poor state of health care in Libya. Libya borders Tunisia to the east.

CNN's Saad Abedine contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 10:20 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT