Libyan Aircraft Crashes After Troops Refuse Bombing Orders

Even as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi called on the military to crack down on anti-government protesters, reports came in Wednesday that a military aircraft had crashed because the crew refused to carry out bombing orders.

An opposition figure told CNN the pilot had been ordered to bomb oil fields southwest of Benghazi but refused and instead ejected from the plane.

The Libyan newspaper Quryna reported that two people were on board, and that both -- the pilot and co-pilot -- parachuted out, allowing the plane to crash into an uninhabited area west of Ajdabiya, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Benghazi. The newspaper cited military sources.

Quryna itself is a sign of changes sweeping through Libya. When protests began last week, it carried regime propaganda. But it later reported on the protests and casualty figures.

CNN could not immediately confirm reports for many areas in Libya. The Libyan government maintains tight control on communications and has not responded to repeated requests from CNN for access to the country. CNN has interviewed numerous witnesses by phone.

In the ninth day of protests that have already cost him control of eastern Libya, Gadhafi faced more defections from within his regime and new international pressure Wednesday to halt military actions against the demonstrators.

Mystery surrounded the whereabouts of one prominent defector. Abdul Fattah Younis, the country's interior minister, told CNN he had resigned Monday after hearing that 300 unarmed civilians had been killed in Benghazi. He accused Gadhafi of planning to attack civilians on a wide scale and predicted that protesters will achieve victory in ""days or hours.
CNN