BFF-35 Libya says at least 4 killed in rocket attacks on capital

476

ZCZC

BFF-35

LIBYA-CONFLICT

Libya says at least 4 killed in rocket attacks on capital

TRIPOLI, May 10, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Libya’s Government of National Accord
said Sunday at least four civilians, including a child, were killed as
rockets rained down on the capital Tripoli and damaged its only working
airport.

The UN-recognised GNA blamed Saturday’s 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,” it said in a
statement on Facebook.

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

Dozens of rockets also targeted Mitiga airport, hitting a civilian
aircraft lined up to repatriate Libyans stuck abroad due to the coronavirus
pandemic, the GNA statement added.

The airport was badly damaged and came under renewed rocket fire on Sunday
morning.

An airport source said the passenger halls and two civilian planes
sustained serious damage.

Images of an aircraft with its fuselage ripped open and of a badly damaged
runway and airport buildings were posted on social media.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said Saturday that rockets and
missiles hit a fuel depot at the airport, destroying four tanks and damaging
six others.

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”.

– ‘Weakness and desperation’ –
Since Wednesday, 17 civilians and two police officers have been killed and
more than 66 other civilians wounded in rocket fire targeting several areas
of the capital, according to the GNA.

UNSMIL slammed the attacks hitting civilians and civilian infrastructure
and called for “those responsible for crimes under international law to be
brought to justice”.

But the GNA said international condemnation was not enough.

“We no longer pay any attention to the timid condemnations of the
international community, incapable as it is of naming” Haftar, holding him to
account or stopping those supporting him, the GNA said.

“The senseless acts… of the past days… are proof of his weakness and
desperation after the successive defeats of his militias and mercenaries,” it
added.

Haftar’s forces have suffered several setbacks in recent weeks, with GNA
fighters ousting them from two key coastal cities west of Tripoli in April.

Backed by Turkey, GNA troops now surround the LNA’s main rear base at
Tarhuna, 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of the capital.

Foreign military involvement in Libya has exacerbated the conflict, with
the United Arab Emirates and Russia backing Haftar and Ankara supplying the
GNA.

World leaders at a Berlin meeting in January committed to ending foreign
meddling and to upholding a 2011 weapons embargo, but the UN has warned that
both sides have continued to receive arms and fighters.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2011hrs