World, Africa

Libya factory strike likely ‘war crime’: UN envoy

UN’s peace broker for Libya says foreign powers are behind much of bloodshed in and around Tripoli

James Reinl   | 18.11.2019
Libya factory strike likely ‘war crime’: UN envoy File Photo

UNITED NATIONS 

An airstrike that killed at least seven workers at a biscuit factory in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, is under investigation and could amount to a “war crime,” the UN envoy to the North African nation Ghassan Salame said Monday.

Addressing the UN Security Council via video link, Salame blasted the attack on the facility in the Wadi Rabea neighborhood that also injured 35 people. He also railed against the dangerous consequences of foreign involvement in Libya’s conflict.

“Regardless of whether the attack deliberately targeted the factory or was an indiscriminate attack, it may constitute a war crime. We are working to verify the facts and will update you accordingly,” Salame told the council in New York.

“It appears that the majority of the dead were migrants, but that at least two were Libyans.”

Those killed in the factory, which is about 21km from the center of Tripoli, included two Libyans and five foreigners from Bangladesh and sub-Saharan African countries, according to local emergency teams.

Tripoli, the headquarters of Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), has been under attack since early April from forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a renegade commander from the east of the country.

The offensive by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) quickly ground to a stalemate, and both sides, drawing on support from foreign powers, have used drones and fighter jets to carry out airstrikes amid sporadic fighting.

“The dangers and direct consequences of foreign interference are increasingly evident. To fill gaps in manpower, there is growing involvement of mercenaries and fighters from foreign private military companies,” said Salame.

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