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Libyan official, patients killed as military plane crashes in Tunisia

The wreckage of a Libyan military plane is seen in Grombalia town, south of Tunis, February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
The wreckage of a Libyan military plane is seen in Grombalia town, south of Tunis, February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

TUNIS (Reuters) - An Islamist official in Libya's government and 10 other passengers and crew were killed when a military plane carrying medical patients crashed near Tunisia's capital early on Friday, officials said.

The Libyan Antonov aircraft went down after the pilot tried to land in farmland near Grombalia town south of Tunis, Tunisia's TAP state news agency reported.

Sheikh Meftah Daouadi, undersecretary at the Libyan Ministry of Martyrs which looks after families of fighters killed in Libya's 2011 revolution, was among the dead, said a spokesman for his organization, the Operations Room for Libyan Revolutionaries.

The veteran Islamist fighter took part in the revolt against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It was unclear whether he was a patient, or was on the plane accompanying one of the other passengers.

Six crew members as well as the patients and their companions died, a spokesman for Tunisia's defense ministry said. Libyans often travel to Tunisia for medical treatment.

Tunisia's TNN channel showed images of Tunisian firefighters dosing the flaming wreckage of the gutted Libyan aircraft before dawn on Friday.

It was the second crash involving a military plane in North Africa in two weeks.

An Algerian military transport plane crashed into a mountain in bad weather on February 11, killing 77 people, in that country's worst air disaster in a decade.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara and Ghaith Shennib in Tripoli, writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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