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19 March 2011

On video: fighter jet shot down over Benghazi

Jet shot down in Libyan rebel stronghold as the allies plan their next move.

By George Eaton

The extraordinary events in Libya have taken another violent turn. In the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, a fighter plane has been shot down, video footage (see below) showing the pilot apparently ejecting.

It’s not immediately clear who the jet belongs to; it was generally assumed to be one of Gaddafi’s, but the Guardian’s Chris McGreal reports that “some of the rebels say it’s their plane”. He adds: “It might have been their only plane that was shot down by Gaddafi’s forces.”

Despite yesterday’s “ceasefire”, there are widespread reports of government forces shelling the rebels and of Libyan jets bombing the road to Benghazi Airport and the city’s outskirts.

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The other significant development is the extensive list of new demands issued by the allies. In addition to calling on Gaddafi to end all attacks on civilians, they have ordered him to stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi and pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zawiya; to re-establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas; and to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the people.

The attacks by Gaddafi’s forces on the rebels have intensified pressure on the allies to act quickly. The French ambassador to the UN, Gérard Araud, has said that we are likely to see military intervention within hours of the end of the emergency conference in Paris.