LONDON (Reuters) – A U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jet crashed in Libya overnight after apparent mechanical failure but its crew were safe, a spokesman for the U.S. military Africa Command said on Tuesday.
Libyan rebels rescued the pilot after he ejected from the warplane which came down near the eastern city of Benghazi, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its website.
U.S. spokesman Vince Crawley declined to give the location of the crash and also would not say how the rescued crewman was picked up or where he was taken.
Another spokesman for the Stuttgart-based Africa Command said later that the second crewman had also been safely rescued, and that both crewmembers had suffered only minor injuries after ejecting from the aircraft.
The crash was likely caused by mechanical failure and not hostile fire, Crawley added.
The Telegraph web site showed local Libyans inspecting the charred wreckage of the plane.
“Just found a crashed US warplane in a field. believe a mechanical failure brought it down,” Telegraph correspondent Rob Crilly said on the Twitter micro-blogging site.
“Came down late last night. Crew believed safe,” Crilly added in subsequent tweets.
Western forces carried out a third night of air raids overnight aimed at protecting civilians from forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington and Keith Weir in Londonl editing by Tim Pearce)
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