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Updated: Libyan fighter jets arrive in Malta

Two Libyan Air Force Mirage jet fighters unexpectedly flew to Malta this afternoon 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. Upon landing they were questioned by the police and sought political asylum.

Their arrival followed shortly after the arrival of two civilian helicopters which flew in and landed at Malta International Airport this afternoon carrying seven people.

Informed sources said the helicopters 'escaped from Libya with no official clearance' but arrived in Malta regularly.

Such was the haste of their departure from Libya, that only one of the passengers was carrying a passport. The passengers claimed they are French.

Immigration police are checking the identities of the passengers while holding them at the airport.

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