TUE 26 - 5 - 2020
Date: Aug 6, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Airstrike hits town hall meeting in Libya, killing at least 42
Agence France Presse
TRIPOLI: At least 42 people were killed and dozens wounded in an airstrike targeting a town hall meeting in southern Libya, a local official and the U.N.-recognized government said Monday, accusing forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar. The Government of National Accord said Sunday’s raid struck the residential district of Qalaa in the town of Murzuq. It left “42 dead and more than 60 injured, 30 of them critically,” municipal council official Ibrahim Omar told AFP.

He said a government building at which over 200 local dignitaries were gathered “to settle social differences” was targeted three times.

“No armed or wanted people were among them. ... Haftar bombed unarmed civilians,” he said, calling for humanitarian aid since the local hospital could not cope with the high number of casualties.

The GNA urged the U.N.’s Libya mission and international community “to carry out an investigation into the crimes committed by Haftar’s militias in Murzuq.”

There was no immediate comment on the raid from Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

With its 50,000 inhabitants, mostly from the Toubou ethnic group, and its ancient fortress, the oasis town is located almost 900 kilometers by road south of Tripoli.

The Toubou have remained at odds with rival Arab tribes that have rallied with Haftar’s forces who took control of the region in January in an operation to “purge it of terrorists and criminals.”

The EU, which has previously called for those breaching international law in Libya to be brought to justice, condemned the strike.

“Indiscriminate attacks on densely populated residential areas may amount to war crimes and must cease immediately,” EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said.

With fighting for Tripoli stalled on the ground after initial advances by Haftar’s forces, the two sides have increasingly taken their fight to the skies with warplanes and drones.

Aviation officials said Monday that a Libyan passenger plane had narrowly escaped being hit by incoming fire as it landed at Tripoli’s sole functioning airport.

The origin of the bombs was not clear, and no side had yet claimed responsibility.

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