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Child among 4 killed in Haftar attack on Libya's capital

Haftar's attacks have increased throughout Ramadan [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 May, 2020

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Eastern-based rogue General Khalifa Haftar's forces launched an attack on the capital Tripoli on Saturday, the internationally-recognised government said.
Libya's Government of National Accord said at least four civilians, including a child, were killed when rockets rained down on the capital Tripoli and its only working airport on Saturday.

The UN-recognised GNA blamed the attacks on eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar, who has been waging a campaign to take control of the capital since April last year.

"The forces of war criminal (Haftar) fired more than a hundred rockets and missiles at residential areas in the centre of the capital Tripoli Saturday", the GNA said in a statement on Facebook.

At least four civilians, including a five-year-old girl, were killed and more than a dozen others wounded in the working-class neighbourhoods of Abu Slim and Ben Gashir south of the city, health ministry spokesman Amin al-Hashemi said.

Dozens of shots targeted Mitiga airport, hitting a civilian aircraft that was preparing to take off to repatriate Libyans stuck abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic, the GNA statement added.

The airport was badly damaged and was the target of further rocket fire on Sunday morning.

An airport source said two civilian planes suffered serious damage.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called the bombardment "an all too familiar but frightening spectacle".

"These horrifying attacks occur on a regular basis in close proximity to civilian neighbourhoods", UNSMIL said on Twitter.

It called the shelling "one in a series of indiscriminate attacks, most of which are attributable to pro-LNA (Haftar) forces, killing more than 15 and injuring 50 civilians since 1 May".

On Friday, the head of Libya’s UN-supported government warned of an escalation in the battle for Tripoli after rockets struck near foreign embassies in the capital, drawing sharp condemnation from the European Union and United Nations.

The Tripoli-based health ministry said an attack late Thursday killed at least three civilians and wounded four others when rockets struck near the perimeter of the Italian ambassador’s residence in the crowded neighborhood of Zawiat al-Dahmani.

Earlier on Thursday, five civilians were reported killed in shelling of two other city neighborhoods.

Read also: UAE is 'trying to divide Libya', government official says

The UN again raised alarm that ordinary Libyans are bearing the brunt of an increasingly deadly siege by eastern-based forces under the command of Haftar, calling the actions “despicable” and “a direct challenge” to peace efforts.

The European Union denounced the assault “in the strongest possible terms,” saying Friday that such indiscriminate strikes “run counter to the respect for human life and international humanitarian law.”

The UN Mission in Libya said it was documenting the violations to share with the International Criminal Court.

The US Embassy echoed the concerns, urging the warring sides to focus their efforts on combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Haftar’s foreign-backed forces launched a push last year to capture Tripoli from Sarraj's government.

The fighting has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced over 150,000, threatening to push Libya into a major conflagration on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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