Top Islamist among dead as Libyan plane crashes in Tunisia

 22 Feb 2014 - 0:00


People stand at the site of a plane crash near Grombalia town, south of Tunis, yesterday.

NIANOU, Tunisia: A medical plane carrying a former jihadist turned member of Libya’s first transitional government crashed south of Tunis early yesterday, killing all 11 on board, Tunisian and Libyan officials said.
The aircraft came down in a field on the edge of Nianou village, around 40km from the capital, without hitting any houses, and burst into flames, a journalist reported. The Libyan flag was still visible on the tailplane amid the charred wreckage, which belonged to the Libyan air force.
“The plane crashed at 1:30 am (0030 GMT)... with 11 people on board — three doctors, two patients and six crew members,” emergency services spokesman Mongi El Kadhi said.
“The whole plane was completely burnt out. The emergency services went to the crash site and recovered the charred bodies.”
The plane was transporting Meftah Al Mabrouk Issa Al Dhawadi to Tunis from a military airfield near Tripoli for medical treatment, the Libyan government said in a statement.
Another unidentified patient was on the plane, according to the statement, adding that they were accompanied by four people, including a doctor, and five crew.
Dhawadi was a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) — a now disbanded movement with alleged links to Al Qaeda which joined the 2011 Nato-backed uprising that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Several members of the group served in the transitional government of Abdelrahim Al Kib, which held power for a year from November 2011. Dhawadi was undersecretary at the ministry of martyrs and missing persons.