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  • Security and emergency personnel work at the site of the airstrike at a detention center for mainly African migrants.

    Security and emergency personnel work at the site of the airstrike at a detention center for mainly African migrants. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 July 2019

An LNA official denied responsibility for the massacre and said that militias associated with the Tripoli-based government had targeted it after a precision airstrike by the LNA on a military camp.

At least 40 people have been killed and 80 injured on Tuesday due to an airstrike on a migrant detention center situated in the suburb ofTajoura, in the east of Tripoli, where several military camps of forces allied to Libya’s United-Nations (U.N.)-backed government are located, according to Malek Mersek, a spokesman for state emergency medical services.

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The Tripoli-based government  National Accord (GNA) blamed the eastern forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar who has launched an offensive three months ago to seize the capital.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), Haftar’s political and military faction had warned Monday it will start heavy airstrikes targeting the capital after “traditional means” of war had been exhausted.

An LNA official denied responsibility for the massacre and said that militias associated with the Tripoli-based government had targeted it after a precision airstrike by the LNA on a military camp.

After three months of combat, the LNA has been unable to take Tripoli, and last week it lost its principal base in Gharyan, south of Tripoli, which was taken back by GNA forces.

Libya has become the main departure point for migrants from Africa fleeing poverty and war and trying to reach Italy by boat. However many get picked up by the Libyan coast guard supported by the European Union. The thousands of migrants intercepted and returned to Libya, or those who are detained there suffer inhumane and horrific conditions, according to human rights groups and the United Nations.

From 2014 and on, Libya has had two political power centers, the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, that is having a hard time governing the capital city and some western areas, and another government in Tobruk, an eastern city which has remained under Haftar's control.

The North-African nation has major oil reserves. It had been under foreign rule for centuries and gained independence in 1951. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969 and ruled the country for four decades until he was toppled in 2011 by Western military intervention. 

The country has since been in chaos with political forces unable to stabilize it. It also transformed in a key point of departure for migrants heading for Europe, and a source of international concern over the rise of Islamists groups.

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