Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Tripoli hit by 'indiscriminate' shelling in south

UN official says estimates of 200 killed and 1,000 wounded in Libyan capital are minimal

Forces backing Libya's unity government during fighting with the Libyan National Army in Tripoli, on April 21, 2019. Reuters
Forces backing Libya's unity government during fighting with the Libyan National Army in Tripoli, on April 21, 2019. Reuters

The southern suburbs of Tripoli have been hit by indiscriminate shelling in recent days, striking homes and killing medics, a UN official said on Monday.

Maria do Valle Ribeiro, the UN's deputy special representative for Libya, appealed for a ceasefire to allow emergency workers to enter and let those in danger escape.

With the offensive on the capital by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) now in its third week, Ms do Valle Ribeiro said the situation was getting worse.

World Health Organisation figures show there have been about 200 killed and more than 1,000 wounded so far, she said from Tripoli.

“I would like to put a caveat on these numbers as we do not have exact numbers. We have not been able to verify,” Ms do Valle Ribeiro said in a video call to New York.

“This would almost be like a minimal estimate of the impact of the fighting, in terms of casualties and fatalities.

“We have examples of attacks or shelling that have reached medical health facilities.”

Among those killed in fighting were an ambulance driver and two medics.

“They were killed as they tried to bring support to people in need,” Ms do Valle Ribeiro said.

“We are calling on parties to the conflict to not just respect international and humanitarian law, but also facilitate the access of humanitarian workers to these areas and to reach the people most in need.”

UN staff in Tripoli have reported that civilian areas had been hit.

“When you look at the southern suburbs of Tripoli or south of the city, there are some very hot areas where we do know that there has been heavy artillery, indiscriminate shelling, into residential areas and some houses,” she said.

“We are also monitoring health facilities that have been touched. This was, seemed to be, indiscriminate.”

Forces backing the Libyan unity government repelled Field Marshal Haftar's troops on Sunday as they approached the gates of Tripoli after heavy overnight strikes.

The air strikes on the forces of the internationally recognised government closed the capital's only functioning airport for several hours.

Field Marshal Haftar ordered his LNA to take Tripoli from the Government of National Accord in an offensive he said was against militants and terrorists.

Updated: April 23, 2019 09:55 AM

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