Tripoli prison shelled

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A prison in Tripoli was shelled injuring several people, its warden said, as bombardment intensified despite pleas for a ceasefire to tackle the coronavirus.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar has been trying since last year to capture Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

The prison, in Ain Zara district in southern Tripoli, is in an area held by pro-GNA forces, not far from a frontline where a fighter with the GNA said intense clashes took place on Tuesday.

Heavy artillery was audible across Tripoli for much of Tuesday and into the evening, with residents under lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, though no cases of the disease have yet been confirmed.

A military source with the LNA, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, said it shot down a drone on Tuesday. The GNA is supported by Turkey.

Acting head of the UN mission in Libya, Stephanie Williams, issued a statement condemning “repeated shelling of Ain Zara neighbourhood, including the al-Rwemi prison, reportedly by forces affiliated to the Libyan National Army”.

Last week, the UN and some countries urged both sides fighting to accept a truce to allow Libya to prepare for the coronavirus, a pandemic that killed more than 17, 200 people worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.

Both the GNA and the LNA publicly welcomed the ceasefire, but fighting broke out again.