At least ten workers were killed and 35 wounded in an air strike that hit a biscuit factory in Libya in what a senior UN official said is a possible war crime.
The majority of those killed in Wadi Rabea, 21 km fromTripoli, were apparently migrants, with two Libyans, UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame told the Security Council.
Pictures posted by authorities showed wounded people in bloodstained civilian clothes l in ambulances or medical facilities.
Tripoli has been under attack since April from forces loyal to east Libya-based commander Khalifa Haftar. The offensive by his Libyan National Army (LNA) is stalled and both sides use drones and fighter jets to carry out air strikes amid sporadic fighting.
LNA air strikes hit civilian areas in Tripoli. Officials in eastern Libya contacted by Reuters said they had no information about an air strike by their forces.
“Regardless of whether the attack deliberately targeted the factory or was indiscriminate, it may constitute a war crime,” Salame said.
He accused the LNA of causing civilian casualties by increased air strikes with unguided bombs, according to a transcript of his speech released by the UN mission in Libya.
The LNA conducted more than 800 drone strikes, Salame said, while forces allied to the Tripoli government carried out 240.
Salame said there was intensified artillery fire directed at some Tripoli districts, although he did not name the LNA. He blamed a recent rise in violence on growing use of mercenaries and private military contractors.
He did not identify these forces, but diplomats and Tripoli officials said hundreds of Russian mercenaries are fighting on Haftar’s side.
More than 200 civilians have died and 128 000 displaced in the conflict, Salame said.
Since 2014, Libya has been split between rival political and military groupings in Tripoli and the east.
Haftar received backing from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, as well as some support from Western powers. The Tripoli government is backed by Turkey.
Last week the United States called on the LNA to halt its offensive on Tripoli, warning against Russian interference.
Salame said Germany’s attempts to hold a conference to end to the conflict in Libya were continuing with another preparatory meeting planned.