Defecting Gaddafi pilots return home to hero's welcome

Crowds greet Libyan fighter pilots who return home after defecting in February after refusing to bomb their countrymen.

By REUTERS
September 18, 2011 19:24
Libyan pilots return home.

Libyan pilots 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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An emotional welcome home for two fighter pilots who defected during Libya's uprising.

Crowds at a Tripoli airport greet the pilots with kisses and gifts.

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The two men landed their planes on the island of Malta in February after refusing to obey orders to attack protesters during the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

One of the defecting pilots, Colonel Ali Al-Rabibti said he was ordered to fire on anti-Gaddafi protesters and to "let them die."

"Yes, I will continue to work as a pilot to protect and free Libya and the skies of Libya, not to kill Libyan people," Ali Al-Rabibti said.

Gaddafi's whereabouts have been unknown since rebels stormed the capital last month and an interim government took power.

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