An airstrike slammed into a biscuit factory in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Monday killing at least seven workers including five foreign nationals and two Libyans, health authorities said, in what the UN envoy to Libya said could be a war crime.
Tripoli has been the scene of fighting since April between the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Gen. KhalifaHifter, and an array of militias loosely allied with the UN-supported but weak government which holds the capital.
At least seven workers were killed and another 35 wounded in an air strike that hit a biscuit factory on Monday in a southern suburb of theLibyan capital, Tripoli, emergency services said.
Those killed in the district of WadiRabea, about 21 km (13 miles) from the city center, included two Libyans and five foreigners from Bangladesh and sub-Saharan African countries, said Usama Ali, a spokesman for the ambulance and emergency authority in Tripoli.
Pictures posted by the authority showed several wounded people in bloodstained civilian clothes lying on beds in ambulances or medical facilities.
Tripoli has been under attack since early April from forces loyal to east Libya-based commander KhalifaHaftar. The offensive by his Libyan National Army (LNA) quickly stalled, and both sides, drawing on foreign support, have used drones and fighter jets to carry out air strikes amid sporadic fighting.
LNA air strikes have repeatedly hit civilian areas in Tripoli. Officials in eastern Libya contacted by Reuters on Monday said they had no information about an air strike by their forces.
Since 2014, Libya has been split between rival political and military groupings based in Tripoli and the east.Haftar has received backing from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, as well as fluctuating support from some Western powers.
Last week the United States called on the LNA to halt its offensive on Tripoli, warning against Russian interference.
The conflict in and around Tripoli has killed and wounded hundreds of civilians and displaced more than 120,000.
The LNA is the largest and best organized of the country’s many militias, and has the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. The Tripoli-allied militias, on the other side, are aided by Turkey and Qatar.
Hatem al-Oreibi, a spokesman for the eastern Libyan administration, demanded that the Misrata airport return the plane within hours or “face escalatory measures,” without elaborating.
The seizure of the plane came days after east Libyan authorities had begun stopping any flights coming from Misrata, alleging security reasons.
Misrata airport is the only functioning airport in western Libya. Tripoli-allied militias have used it as an airbase during the conflict.
A spokesman for the UN-supported government did not immediately answer calls seeking comment.
The rise in violence this past year threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
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