TRIPOLI: Libya’s unity government said on Thursday that five women were killed and five civilians wounded in Tripoli the previous day in bombardment by the forces of eastern-based military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Amine Al-Hachemi, spokesman for the Health Ministry of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, said: “Rockets and shells hit houses in the neighborhoods of Ain Zara and Bab Ben Ghachir.”
War-torn Libya is largely divided between forces backing the United Nations-recognized GNA and those led by Haftar, who backs a rival administration in the country’s east.
Since last April, Haftar’s forces have led an offensive to capture the Libyan capital, with the GNA accusing them of carrying out the indiscriminate bombing.
On Tuesday, the United Nations and nine countries called on the warring parties to cease hostilities to allow health authorities to fight against the new coronavirus.
In a statement, the GNA responded positively to calls for a truce but said it “reserved the right to respond to daily attacks against civilians and public facilities.”
It called on the international community to “ask the aggressor directly to stop these violations and crimes,” referring to Haftar.
The UN has raised fears over a possible outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Libya, where the health system has been battered by almost a decade of violence.
A fragile truce entered into force on January 12, but there have been repeated violations.
To date, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported by either administration, but experts fear an outbreak could be catastrophic.
The UN Support Mission in Libya on Tuesday urged asking all parties “to join forces immediately before it is too late to face this overwhelming, fast-spreading threat.”