Updated 7.55 a.m. on Monday

One of three RAF Hercules aircraft which performed a second rescue mission to Libya from Malta yesterday (Sunday) was shot at and suffered some damage, but no one was injured, the British Ministry of Defence has said.

The three aircraft returned safely to Malta in the evening bringing 150 oil workers. It was the second, daring, rescue mission carried out by the Royal Air Force and UK special forces deep in the Libyan desert.

One plane suffered minor damage after coming under small-arms fire, the Ministry of Defence revealed.

British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the armed forces' bravery in carrying out an operation "that was not without its difficulties".

The BBC reported how some of those rescued described the moment a Hercules was shot at above a strip south west of Benghazi, forcing it to abandon a landing.

One British oil worker said: "The aircraft took two hits on the right hand side of the fuselage, you just heard "bang bang" as the rounds actually struck."

After failing to land at two blocked off fields, the Hercules was trying again at a third when the firing started, forcing them to abort.

The Ministry of Defence said: "We can confirm that during the operation... one of our C130 aircraft appears to have suffered minor damage consistent with small arms fire.

"There were no injuries to passengers or crew and the aircraft returned safely to Malta."

The Hercules picked up workers of many nationalities. Another 200 workers were picked up by the Royal Navy frigate Cumberland, which is due to return to Malta on Monday afternoon.

On Saturday, two Hercules aircraft picked up 150 expatriate workers, including a Maltese - Anthony Formosa - when they hopped between three remote desert landing strips south of Benghazi.

Mr Formosa told PBS how some of the cars used by his oil rig camp were stolen. Mr Formosa and his 40 colleagues sought shelter in a nearby village for five tension-filled days. Yesterday morning they travelled to a nearby airstrip which was under the control of anti-government protesters and he was immediately allowed on board the Hercules by the British servicemen which flew to Malta at low level to evade radar.

He said there were scenes of jubilation on board when the plane finally made it back

It is not known where the Hercules in today's mission landed.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed earlier today that there was no Libyan authorisation for yesterday's mission.

Media reports said that British special forces as well as tribesmen and oil workers were involved in securing the landing strips.


The German military also reported that its planes landed on a private runway belonging to the Wintershall AG company, evacuating 22 Germans and 112 others and flying them to the Greek island of Crete.


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