Rebel says own plane downed over Benghazi

BENGHAZI, Libya Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:46pm GMT

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A warplane was shot down on Saturday over the Libyan city of Benghazi and an opposition activist said it was a rebel fighter jet hit by accident.

Azeldin al-Sharif, an opposition activist, said rebel forces had brought the plane down by mistake over the city of Benghazi.

The city came under attack from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday, including air strikes by planes loyal to the government.

"The fighter jet that was brought down this morning, was a revolutionary fighter jet and was hit by mistake. There is no communication on the ground," said Sharif, head of the British-Libyan Solidarity Campaign.

Earlier, Reuters correspondent Angus MacSwan described seeing the warplane come down.

"I saw the plane circle around, come out of the clouds, head toward an apparent target, and then it was hit and went straight down in flames and a huge billow of black smoke went up," he said.

(Reporting by Angus MacSwan and Mohammed Abbas; Writing by Tom Perry in Cairo; Editing by Sophie Hares)