'Haftar airstrike' on southern Libya town kills dozens

'Haftar airstrike' on southern Libya town kills dozens
2 min read
05 August, 2019
Libya has seen an uptick in air strikes in recent months.
Airstrikes have become more common in Libya [Getty]

A southern Libya town was hit by a deadly air raid on Sunday leaving dozens of people dead, which has been blamed on forces loyal to militia leader Khalifa Haftar.

At least 43 people were killed when a plane struck a residential area of the town of Morzuk in southern Libya, members of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and local officials told news agencies, with the death toll expected to rise.

"The air strike resulted in 43 killed and 51 wounded. This is only an initial toll of casualties," municipal council member Mohammed Omar told Reuters.

Omar earlier told AFP that 60 people were injured "30 of them critically", while the GNA on its Facebook page blamed Haftar forces for the massacre.

Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) said in a statement it had carried out strikes on "Chadian opposition fighters", a phrase used to refer to Tebu tribesmen in the south of Libya who oppose them, Reuters reported.

The LNA controlled the oil-rich southern area following an offensive at the start of the year, but withdraw its fighters to concentrate on a campaign to take the Libyan capital Tripoli, which began in April.

With the GNA and LNA now locked in stalemate, air and drone strikes have been increasingly used by both sides, leading to fears that the civilian death toll could mount if an air war is pursued.

Haftar's forces have been criticised for hitting civilian targets, including an airstrike on a migrant centre which killed 53 people.

Haftar's campaign to capture Tripoli has cost 1,000 lives.

Agencies contributed to this story.