The first shot in a U.N.-mandated intervention in Libya was fired by a French aircraft and destroyed a military vehicle at around 1645 GMT, French defence ministry and army officials said on Saturday.

"A first target was engaged and destroyed," ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire told reporters.

An armed forces spokesman told the same briefing that the operation to halt Muammar Gaddafi's advance on rebel forces involved around 20 planes and an area 100 km by 150 km (60 by100 miles) around the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier will leave France for Libya on Sunday, the spokesman added. A central command centre for the operation was still being set up. (Reuters )