First Published: 2017-05-19

UN envoy slams deadly attack in Libya's south
UN envoy Martin Kobler condemns deadly attack by forces of UN-backed Libya government against airbase used by forces loyal to rival leader Khalifa Haftar.
Middle East Online

Libyan media reported at least 60 dead in the attack

TRIPOLI - The UN envoy to Libya on Friday voiced alarm at reports of "significant" fatalities in an attack by a militia loyal to the unity government on a military base controlled by rival forces.

Members of the Third Force militia loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli attacked an airbase used by military strongman Khalifa Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), military sources said.

Both the GNA and defence ministry condemned Thursday's attack and said they had not ordered any such action, vowing to investigate and sanction those responsible.

There was no independent word on casualties in the assault on the Brak al-Shati base, 650 kilometres (400 miles) south of Tripoli, but Libyan media reported at least 60 dead.

"I am outraged by reports of significant numbers of fatalities, including civilians and by reports that summary executions may have taken place," UN envoy Martin Kobler said in a statement.

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.

The LNA does not recognise the authority of the GNA, and instead supports the rival authorities based in the east.

Britain's ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett, also denounced the airbase assault.

"Disgusted by attack on Brak al-Shati & reports of mass executions. Perpetrators must be brought to justice," he wrote on Twitter.

The incident at the Brak base in Wadi al-Shati district comes a month after an attack by the LNA on the Tamenhant airbase controlled by the Third Force near the south's main city of Sebha.

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

The speaker of the eastern-based parliament, which is supported by the LNA, accused the Misrata-based Third Force of a "serious breach of the truce agreement reached in Abu Dhabi".

Aguila Saleh said there were a "number of martyrs" in LNA ranks, without giving a figure.

The speaker said he had given orders for the armed forces "to take the measures necessary to respond to the assault and defend the south and cleanse it of all outlaw militias".

In Tripoli, the GNA called for an immediate ceasefire in the south, where tribes and militias vie for control of lucrative smuggling routes with neighbouring Chad, Niger and Sudan.

"We hope reason will prevail and that the escalation and provocation will stop," it said.

The unity government's defence ministry laid the blame on "those who started bombing Tamenhant base with warplanes and tanks", referring to Haftar's forces.

In fresh violence on Friday, a pro-Haftar tribal chief, Sheikh Ibrayek Alwati, and five other people including a child were killed in a car bombing outside a mosque in the eastern city of Slouq, medical and security sources said.

 

Iraq Kurds start voting in historic independence referendum

Erdogan threatens Iraqi Kurds with border closure, oil block

US-led strikes killed 84 civilians near Syria's Raqa

Iran shuts border with Iraqi Kurdistan

Dubai set to become first city with flying taxis

UAE announces plans for region’s first nuclear reactor

Putin to visit Erdogan this week for Syria, Iraq talks

Sudan vows to step up efforts to improve US ties

Turkey to launch intervention into Syria — and maybe into Iraq

Egyptian ‘world’s heaviest woman’ dies in Abu Dhabi

Palestinian unity government remains unlikely

Emirati man fights his employer to serve in country’s army

Palestinian PM to visit Gaza next week

Saudi advisory body to tackle female driving ban

Turkey denies closing Iraqi border in response to Kurdish vote

US air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya

Yemen's Hadi says military solution 'most likely'

The high cost of Syria’s destruction

Palestinian negotiator awaits lung transplant in US

Kurds ready for contentious vote in Iraq

A Kurdish state: Reality or utopia?

Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Saudi Arabia marks national day with fireworks, concerts

Iran defies US, tests missile

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Barzani delays Kurdish independence vote announcement

Syria's war off the radar at UN assembly

For many Iraqis, tradition trumps police

Darfur clashes kill 3 as Bashir urges reconciliation

Saudi cleric banned for saying women have ‘quarter’ brain

Veteran Syrian activist, daughter assassinated in Istanbul

Tunisia drops forced anal exams for homosexuality

Bomb used in Saudi-led strike on Yemen children US-made

Syria Kurds vote to cement federal push

Police charge teenager over London Underground attack

Nigerian official to meet Turkish counterpart over illegal guns

Thousands feared trapped in Raqa as IS mounts last stand

Iraqi forces achieve first step in new offensive on IS

Migrant boat sinks off Turkish Black Sea coast leaving four dead, 20 missing

Trump praises 'friend' Erdogan

Yemen leader promises UN to open entire country to aid

Rouhani vows Iran will boost missiles despite US criticism

Russia clashes with EU over Syria

UN Security Council warns against holding Iraqi Kurd vote

UN sets up probe of IS war crimes in Iraq