People urged to leave homes as Tripoli comes under heavy exchange of fire

Update People urged to leave homes as Tripoli  comes under heavy exchange of fire
The Libyan Government of National Accords said Haftar's forces used foreign planes to carry out air strikes. (AFP/File)
Updated 28 April 2019

People urged to leave homes as Tripoli comes under heavy exchange of fire

People urged to leave homes as Tripoli  comes under heavy exchange of fire
  • A GNA spokesperson said none of the strikes hit military targets
  • WHO reported that at least 278 people died in the clashes in Tripoli

TRIPOLI: Air raids were carried out on Saturday night on the Libyan capital Tripoli, according to AFP journalists and residents who heard loud explosions.

The exact locations of the strikes were not known, but
the roar of airplanes over the city was accompanied by heavy explosions between 11 p.m. and midnight.

“We are hearing sustained, uninterrupted fire” from machine guns and anti-aircraft guns “and occasional airstrikes, but we do not know where exactly,” a resident of west Tripoli told AFP.

“On Facebook, users are saying that you must leave your house if you live near a barracks or a place where armed groups have taken position,” she added. “But we are afraid to go out into the street so late at night.”

Forces loyal to the UN-recognized government of national unity — Government of National Accord (GNA) —  and fighters under commander Khalifa Haftar, have been engaged in battle for three weeks.

After GNA forces launched a counter-attack last weekend, the International Committee for the Red Cross warned that residential areas of Tripoli were being turned into battlefields.

 

Casualties

Tripoli claims that the air raids have killed four people and wounded 20 others.

“Several sites were targeted by airstrikes late Saturday night, causing victims among civilians,” the source told AFP.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive against Tripoli, the seat of the GNA, on April 4.

At least 278 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in the clashes, according to a toll released Wednesday by the World Health Organization.

Haftar’s offensive has sharpened fault lines in policy toward Libya among world powers.

On April 18, Russia and the US opposed a British bid backed by France and Germany at the UN Security Council to demand a cease-fire in the North African country.

“This criminal conceals his failures and those of his soldiers at the gates of Tripoli by resorting to foreign aviation to hit unarmed civilians in the city,” spokesman Mohanad Younes said on the GNA’s official Facebook page.

The White House revealed the next day that US President Donald Trump had reached out personally to Haftar in a phone call, during which the US president “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.”

At least 278 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in the clashes, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 35,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, according to the UN.

Most of the fighting happens on the ground, but there are occasional air raids.

The country has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising that deposed and killed Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.