Eight soldiers killed in attack on Haftar camp in south Libya

2019-05-05 21:31
Fighters from the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army loyal to Khalifa Haftar. (Abdullah Doma, AFP)

Fighters from the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army loyal to Khalifa Haftar. (Abdullah Doma, AFP)

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Eight soldiers were killed in an attack on a training camp belonging to the eastern Libyan armed forces of Khalifa Haftar in the southern city of Sebha, the head of the local municipality said.

Hamed al-Khaiyali told Reuters news agency one soldier had been beheaded, the others "slaughtered" or shot in the attack on Saturday.

A source in Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) blamed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) group and Chadian fighters for the attack, the latter a term used by the LNA for tribesmen opposing Haftar.

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Sebha - like much of the south and its oilfields - is controlled by the LNA but the force has moved troops north for a month-long offensive on the capital Tripoli, held by the internationally recognised government.

The campaign has not breached the southern defence of the capital.

The LNA faced strong opposition from the Tebu ethnic group during its campaign in the south at the start of the year.

ISIL fighters are also active in southern Libya where is has staged several hit-and-run attacks in recent months. It retreated to the south after losing its stronghold in the central city of Sirte in December 2016.

Nearly 400 killed by fighting

At least 392 people have been killed and 1 936 wounded since Haftar launched an offensive against Tripoli last month, the UN's World Health Organisation said on Friday.

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More than 50 000 have meanwhile been displaced as a direct result "of the intensifying armed conflict in Tripoli", according to another UN body, the Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"We are concerned about the alarming figures of displacement," OCHA said.

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army began its offensive against the Tripoli based Government of National Accord (GNA) on April 4.

Haftar enjoys the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which view him as an anchor to restore stability in Libya. But Qatar said an existing UN arms embargo on Libya should be strictly enforced to prevent the commander from receiving arms.

Forces loyal to the internationally recognised GNA have since launched a counter-offensive, leading to a stalemate on the ground on the southern outskirts of the capital.

Most civilians who have fled the fighting have found refuge with relatives or friends, without registering with the authorities, according to humanitarian agencies.

Read more on:    libya  |  north africa
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