A Libyan Aero L-39 Albatros light ground attack aircraft with a full complement of bombs onboard landed on a rural road in southern Tunisia on Monday, Tunisia’s TAP news agency has reported, with eyewitnesses sharing photos and videos of the plane.
The plane made an emergency landing outside the city of Medenin, about 100 km from Tunisia’s border with Libya, and roughly 250 km from the scene of intense fighting in Tripoli.
The plane’s lone pilot was detained, with authorities cordoning the area off as a security precaution. According to the Tunisian Defence Ministry, the pilot informed authorities that his plane had suffered damage, forcing him to land. Other unconfirmed reports suggested that the plane ran out of fuel.
Video footage showed the plane surrounded by police tape and spectators gathered to observe it.
According to Tunisia’s TAP news agency, the Tunisian air force planned to intercept the jet after it violated the country’s airspace, but it landed before they could do so.
The western Libya-based Government of National Accord (GNA) denied that the plane belonged to them, with Marshal Khaftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which serves as the armed forces of the eastern Libyan government based in Tobruk, yet to comment on the incident. Both factions have access to Aero L-39s, a Czechoslovak aircraft which Libya originally purchased in 1978.
In early July, LNA forces reported shooting down a GNA L-39, with Tripoli acknowledging that it lost contact with one of its aircraft.