Tripoli water supply restored

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Water supplies to 2.5 million Tripoli residents were restored two days after they were cut off by gunmen, officials said, allowing the besieged capital to escape shortages that could have caused a humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations condemned the water cut-off as possible war crime. Libya’s internationally recognised government accused forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, trying to capture Tripoli, of being behind the stoppage.

Haftar’s forces denie they were responsible for cutting off water. A commander in his Libyan National Army (LNA) said they sent reinforcements to secure the pipeline.

“The crisis of halting water supplies ended and flows have started,” the Great Man-Made River company, a pipe network supplying groundwater from the Sahara, said in a statement.

On Saturday, an armed group stormed a pump station south of Tripoli, forcing employees to turn off the water flow, the company said, without giving more details. Supplies to city residents were not immediately halted because the water system holds two days of capacity.

The UN-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj blamed a group that cut water supplies in 2017, saying its commander, Khalifa Ehnaish, belonged to Haftar’s forces.

The LNA launched an assault to capture the capital. Fighting in the battle for Tripoli has killed at least 510, forced 75,000 from their homes, trapped migrants in detention centres and flattened some suburbs, according to the United Nations.