A Turkish military cargo plane dropping humanitarian aid over the Libyan town of Bani Walid came under fire from the ground, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reported Monday.
The incident happened on Saturday when one of two Turkish C-130 transport planes parachuting aid to residents was fired on, the agency said, citing a journalist on the plane, according to AFP.
The pilots took evasive action and narrowly missed being hit, returning the plane safely to base in Turkey after a brief stopover in Benghazi to check for possible damage.
A spokesman for Muammar Qaddafi, meanwhile, said on Sunday that 17 “mercenaries,” including what he called French and British “technical experts” had been captured in the Qaddafi bastion of Bani Walid in Libya.
“A group was captured in Bani Walid consisting of 17 mercenaries. They are technical experts and they include consultative officers,” Moussa Ibrahim told Syrian-based Arrai TV.
“Most of them are French, one of them is from an Asian country that has not been identified, two English people and one Qatari,” he added, according to Reuters.
He said the 17 would be shown on television at a later time, but did not give more details.
It was not immediately possible to verify Ibrahim’s claims. The French foreign ministry said it had no information regarding the report.
NATO, French and British officials had on Saturday denied a report by Arrai TV that some NATO troops had been captured by Qaddafi loyalists.
Western special forces are known to have been in Libya and to have liaised with anti-Qaddafi officials during the conflict. Private security firms have also been helping anti-Qaddafi forces, according to Western media reports.
Libyan interim government fighters fired rockets from the southern entrance to Sirte on Sunday and exchanged heavy fire with Qaddafi loyalists holed up in a conference center.
“The situation is very, very dangerous,” Mohamed Abdullah, a rebel, told Reuters on the edge of the coastal city, where the ousted leader was born.
“There are so many snipers and all the types of weapons you can imagine,” he said, as rockets whooshed in the air and black smoke rose above the city, which is controlled by soldiers loyal to Qaddafi.
The rebels fired several mortars and tried to ambush revolutionary forces Sunday at the northern gate of the loyalist stronghold of Bani Walid, The Associated Press reported.
With their numbers stretched thin, the former rebels sent reinforcements, some who arrived with a tank that had been seized from the ousted regime.
Libya’s new rulers, meanwhile, pressed forward with efforts to assert authority over the country. The National Transitional Council (TNC) is expected to announce a new Cabinet lineup soon. That would show progress in forming a new government ahead of the U.N. General Assembly this week.