Airstrike on Libyan detention centre leaves 40 migrants dead

Updated: Jul 04, 2019, 10:39 IST | Agencies

Tripoli govt blames self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Hifter, for the airstrike and calls for the UN support mission in Libya to establish a fact-finding committee to investigate

Airstrike on Libyan detention centre leaves 40 migrants dead
Military officers of the Libyan Government of National Accord inspect the site of the airstrike in Tripoli’s southern suburb of Tajoura. Pic /AFP

Benghazi: An airstrike hit a detention centre for migrants early on Wednesday in the Libyan capital, killing at least 40 people, a health official in the country's UN-supported government said.

The airstrike targeting the detention centre in Tripoli's Tajoura neighbourhood also wounded 80 migrants, said Malek Merset, a spokesman for the health ministry. Merset posted photos of migrants who were being taken in ambulances to hospitals. Footage circulating online and said to be from inside the migrant detention centre showed horrific images of blood and body parts mixed with rubble and migrants' belongings. The UN refugee agency in Libya condemned the airstrike on the detention centre, which houses 616 migrants and refugees.

The Tripoli-based government blamed the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Hifter, for the airstrike and called for the UN support mission in Libya to establish a fact-finding committee to investigate.

A spokesman for Hifter forces did not immediately answer phone calls and messages seeking comment. Local media reported that LNA had launched airstrikes against a militia camp near the detention centre. The LNA launched an offensive against the weak Tripoli-based government in April. Hifter's forces control much of the country's east and south but were dealt a significant blow last week when militias allied with the Tripoli government reclaimed the strategic town of Gharyan, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the capital. Gharyan had been a key supply route for the LNA forces.

The fighting for Tripoli has threatened to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and led to his death.

At least 6,000 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and other nations are locked in dozens of detention facilities in Libya that are run by militias accused of torture and other human rights abuses.

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