Migrants evacuated from Tripoli detention centre

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The United Nations evacuated more than 350 migrants from a detention centre in southern Tripoli where a fierce battle raged as fighters from rival Libyan camps traded rockets and artillery shells.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar, allied to a rival government in eastern Libya, mounted an offensive on Tripoli but so far failed to breach the city’s southern defences.

The group of migrants were seen travelling in buses to a detention centre in Zawiya, west of the capital, bringing the total evacuated since Wednesday to around 675.

They came from a facility in the Qasr Ben Gashir district run by the UN-backed government in Tripoli, an area that has become the main theatre of fighting.

A Reuters reporter in Ain Zara suburb, also in southern Tripoli, saw heavy clashes, with both sides using artillery and anti-aircraft guns.

Forces loyal to the Tripoli government pushed back the LNA on some southern frontlines though the LNA was still fighting in southern Tripoli. The Tripoli forces gained ground in some parts of Ain Zara.

Gunfire rang through a narrow street packed with pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns as fighters allied to Tripoli forces shouted: “Haftar, we are coming”.

A fighter from Zintan, west of the capital, was firing his anti-aircraft gun for several minutes. He was killed by an incoming rocket, his comrades told Reuters.

Two others from the same armed group died as shelling from the battle in southern suburbs could be heard in central Tripoli late at night, witnesses said.

The LNA still holds the forward base Gharyan, south of Tripoli, difficult to take due to its mountainous location.

Hospitals struggle with chronic shortages of medical supplies amid power outages and weakened water pumping stations, the aid agency said in a statement after three weeks of clashes.

“It is crucial hospitals, medical facilities, health staff and vehicles transporting the wounded are allowed to work safely,” said International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a statement.

The World Health Organisation said 278 people have been killed in the last three weeks and 1,332 wounded.