Libya military academy attacked

99

At least 30 people were killed and 33 wounded in an attack on a military academy in the Libyan capital l, the health ministry of the Tripoli-based government said in a statement.

Tripoli, controlled by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), is facing an offensive by military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) that began in April.

There has been an increase in air strikes and shelling around Tripoli in recent weeks, with fears fighting could escalate further after Turkey’s parliament voted to allow a troop deployment in support of the GNA.

Forces allied with the GNA described Saturday’s attack on the military camp at Al-Hadhba as “an aerial bombing” launched by their eastern rivals. An LNA spokesman denied involvement.

GNA Health Minister Hamid bin Omar told Reuters the number of dead and wounded was rising. Tripoli ambulance service spokesman Osama Ali said some body parts could not be immediately counted by forensic experts.

Earlier, the ambulance service appealed for a temporary ceasefire to allow crews to retrieve the bodies of five civilians killed on As Sidra Road in southern Tripoli and to evacuate families.

Emergency teams withdrew after coming under fire while trying to access the area on Saturday, it said.

The GNA Foreign Ministry wants Haftar and his aides referred to the International Criminal Court for committing “crimes against humanity”, adding it will call for an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the alleged crimes.

Qatar, which supports GNA, said the attack “may amount to a war crime and crimes against humanity”.

Ankara, which last week passed a bill approving a troop deployment in Libya to support Tripoli, condemned the attack and said the international community needs to take steps to achieve a ceasefire.

“It is crucial for the international community to urgently take necessary steps to halt external support for the pro-Haftar army and its attacks and establish a ceasefire in Libya,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned the attack saying “rising escalation further complicates the situation in Libya and threatens the chances of returning to the political process”.

In response to the attack, GNA allied forces targeted the LNA air base Al-Wattia in an air strike, southwest of Tripoli, a spokesman said in a statement.

Two sources in Haftar forces said four fighters were killed in a drone strike.

An increase in air strikes and shelling in and around Tripoli caused the deaths of at least 11 civilians since December and shut down health facilities and schools, the UN mission in Libya said.

Rockets and shelling shut down Tripoli’s only functioning airport on Friday.

On Friday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres renewed his call for an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

He warned delivery of foreign support to warring parties would “only deepen the ongoing conflict and further complicate efforts to reach a peaceful and comprehensive political solution”.

The parliament which moved to the east in 2014 voted to provide Haftar with emergency funding.



The pro-Haftar chamber held a series of symbolic votes against the GNA and Turkey, which struck pacts on maritime boundaries and military co-operation in November.