A fighter jet plunges out of the sky into the heart of an urban center, sending up a gigantic ball of flame. It looks like the pyrotechnics stuff of Hollywood movies - except that it is real, and was filmed by frightened civilians on Tuesday in the Libyan city of Tobruk.
A fighter jet, reportedly of the MiG 21 model and belonging to the forces of former Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, crashed in the city due to a technical malfunction, killing the pilot and a child, according to security officials.
“The pilot was killed when his aircraft hit a building during a demonstration flight,” the official told AFP. Miraculously the co-pilot survived the breakneck speed collision and blast, but was wounded along with numerous civilians. The age of the dead child was not listed.
According to officials, the jet's hydraulic system failed, preventing the pilot from pulling out of the lethal nosedive into an apartment building, a crash that took his life and a child's, and wrought havoc to the city.
Only three days earlier, another jet in Haftar's forces crashed in eastern Libya, killing the pilot. That time, too, it was reported as a "technical" problem; however, the terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia later claimed it had shot down the plane with a missile.
Fierce fighting has broken out in Libya between government troops and Islamist militias, recently leading the US and Turkey to evacuate their diplomatic staff.
As for General Haftar, he took part in the fight against the Islamist forces starting in Benghazi on May 16, and remains engaged in conflict with them.
Libya has been wracked by unrest between rival tribal and political factions since western forces ousted long-time dictator Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.