Auto bomb kills 6 in eastern Libya

20 May, 2017, 11:17 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • A member of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army fires a machine gun in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi

The UN delegate to Libya has voiced "outrage" at reports of "significant" fatalities in an attack by a group loyal to the Government of National Accord on a military base controlled by Operation Dignity forces.

"The soldiers were returning from a military parade".

On Friday, GNA said in a statement that it suspended Mahdi al-Barghathi, its defence minister, and ordered an investigation to determine his role in Thursday's incident.

A 12th Brigade spokesman, Mohamed Al-Afirs, said as many as 86 people had been killed including his brigade's troops and civilians.

The unity government, the rival administration in eastern Libya and their respective backers are battling for influence in the North African country which has been wracked by chaos since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

According to LNA spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari, the victims included civilians who worked at the Brak al-Shati airbase or were in the nearby area. "They were unarmed. majority died", - said al-Mesmari.

The official said the force's next aim is to secure the airbase. U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler called the attack unprovoked and vicious, saying it "must not push (Libya) into further, serious conflict".

As a pretext to the attack he cited "suspicious movements" inside the base allegedly detected by the militiamen, which he said could have threatened their positions.

Forces loyal to Mohammed Ben Nayal of Dignity Operation - a United Nations designated terrorist group - had seized Brak Al-Shati Airbase in December 2016 and allegedly started using it to launch attacks on Taminhint Airbase to expel the Third Force from south Libya.

That attack was called off after a reconciliation meeting between Haftar and unity government head Fayez al-Sarraj in Abu Dhabi on 2 May.

The new spiral of violence threatens to undermine a fragile peace deal, reached last month between Tobruk and Tripoli authorities in Rome that was brokered by Italy.

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