Tripoli, July 3 (IANS) Over 40 migrants were killed and more than 130 injured in an overnight air raid on a migrant centre on the outskirts of the Libyan capital, officials said on Wednesday. Sources said the toll could reach 60.
The air raid on the Tajoura centre was “a massacre, the deaths could reach 60,” the sources told AKI.
The United Nations mission in Libya said at least 44 people died and over 130 were “severely injured” in the attack, which the internationally recognised government in Tripoli has blamed on eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
The United Nations mission in Libya on Wednesday condemned the deadly overnight air strike.
“UNSMIL strongly condemns the attack on a compound in Tajoura in which migrants were detained, which led to at least 44 deaths and more than 130 severe injuries.
“This is the second time this facility, hosting about 600 migrants, has been attacked,” it said in tweets.
Most of the dead are believed to be sub-Saharan Africans, attempting to reach Europe from Libya by sea.
The detention centre is next to a military camp, one of several in Tajoura, east of Tripoli’s centre, which have been targeted by air strikes for weeks.
Tripoli has been in the grip of warfare since early April between eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and militias allied to the internationally recognised government.
International diplomatic efforts have so far failed to bring about a ceasefire in the three-month-long fighting Tripoli in which over 600 people had been killed and more than 3,260 wounded, according to the UN.
The attack was carried out overnight by F-16 fighter-bombers taking part in Haftar’s military advance towards Tripoli, Efe news reported citing sources.
Images from the ground showed piles of rubble left where the buildings had been, while emergency crews worked to remove both the wounded and the dead.
Women and children were among those hit, Guma El-Gamaty, a member of the UN-backed political dialogue group, told the BBC.
“People were everywhere, the camp was destroyed, people were crying here. There is psychological trauma, the lights cut off. We couldn’t see the area very clearly but just when the ambulance came, it was horrible, blood was everywhere, somebody’s guts in pieces,” Libyan Health Ministry official Doctor Khalid Bin Attia told the BBC.
UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said the attack “clearly could constitute a war crime, as it killed by surprise innocent people whose dire conditions forced them to be in that shelter”.
The African Union also condemned the strike.