LONDON - A US Air Force F-15E fighter jet crashed in Libya overnight after apparent mechanical failure but its crew were safe, a spokesman for the US military Africa Command said on Tuesday.
Libyan rebels rescued the pilot after he ejected from the warplane which came down near the eastern city of Benghazi, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its website.
US spokesman Vince Crawley declined to give the location of the crash and also would not say how the rescued crewman was picked up or where he was taken.
Another spokesman for the Stuttgart-based Africa Command said later that the second crewman had also been safely rescued, and that both crewmembers had suffered only minor injuries after ejecting from the aircraft.
The crash was likely caused by mechanical failure and not hostile fire, Crawley added.
The Telegraph web site showed local Libyans inspecting the charred wreckage of the plane.
"Just found a crashed US warplane in a field. believe a mechanical failure brought it down," Telegraph correspondent Rob Crilly said on the Twitter micro-blogging site.
"Came down late last night. Crew believed safe," Crilly added in subsequent tweets.
The aircraft, based out of Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, was flying out of Italy's Aviano Air Base in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn at the time of the incident.
The Air Force has said only that B-2, F-15 and F-16 fighters are participating in operations over Libya. The US's involvement in Libya is being run by Africa Command, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany.
Africa Command launched in October 2008 after the Pentagon abandoned efforts to base the command on the continent after it hit resistance among the African nations, and instead posted about two dozen liaison officers at African embassies.