Many foreign nationals are stranded in Libya, where mass protests and violence have escalated since mid-February, as the country's authorities ordered a closure of the country's airspace, Germany's DPA news agency said.
An Austrian army transport plane, which was to evacuate about 60 EU citizens from Libya, became stranded in the airport as "the entire airspace is blocked," an Austrian defense ministry official told the agency.
According to international organizations, up to 500 people have been killed by government forces since protests against the country's long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi began February 15, and thousands more have been wounded. The Libyan authorities officially confirm 84 deaths.
Arab TV channels and western news agencies reported that Libyan air force bombed protestors, but Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, dismissed the information.
"Reports that Libyan armed forces bombed Tripoli and Benghazi are groundless," he was quoted as saying by Libya's state TV.
He added that only abandoned military warehouses were bombed.
Two Libyan Air Force Mirage F-1 jet fighters flew to Malta on Monday, Times of Malta said. The pilots sought political asylum, claiming they escaped after having been ordered to bomb protesters in Benghazi. The aircraft had air-to-ground rockets onboard.
Many Libyan politicians and diplomats openly expressed their support for the protestors. Justice Minister Mustapha Abdul Jalil has joined the protesters. Libya's permanent representative to the Arab League Abdel Moneim al-Honi tendered his resignation over the heavy-handed crackdown on protestors, Al-Jazeera reported.
Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's Deputy Ambassador to the UN, urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces.
Al-Jazeera said many Libyan border guards crossed the border with Egypt, leaving the state border virtually unprotected.
There were also media reports that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela, but they were dismissed by Venezuelan diplomats and Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kayem.
Former Libyan army chief General Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabil was placed under house arrest for failure to tackle the protests, Iran's Press TV said.
MOSCOW / CAIRO, February 22 (RIA Novosti)