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  • Air strikes and skirmishes have wounded 5,000 and killed nearly 1,000 people, the WHO said in a report Friday, July 5, 2019.

    Air strikes and skirmishes have wounded 5,000 and killed nearly 1,000 people, the WHO said in a report Friday, July 5, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 July 2019

Three months ago, Haftar launched a military offensive to capture the city of Tripoli — today nearly 1,000 have died and 5,000 injured.

Over 100,000 people have been displaced, 5,000 injured and nearly 1,000 killed since the rogue military leader Khalifa Haftar set his eyes on the Libyan capital of Tripoli last April, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.

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Three months ago, Haftar launched a military offensive to capture the city of Tripoli from the U.N.-backed forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Air strikes and skirmishes have wounded 5,000 and killed nearly 1,000 people, the WHO said, without divulging civilians versus soldiers within these numbers.

However, the death toll grew by 44 after an attack on a migrant shelter Tuesday. Over 130 others were wounded by the violence, although the true figure is believed to be much higher as rescue efforts are still underway.

United Nations Libya envoy Ghassan Salame condemned the attack, saying it “clearly amounts to the level of a war crime.”

“The absurdity of this ongoing war has today reached its most heinous form and tragic outcome with this bloody, unjust slaughter,” Salame said in a statement.

The Tripoli-based government blamed the “war criminal Khalifa Haftar” for the killings.

Since 2014, 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.

Both sides enjoy military support from regional powers. Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while Turkey recently shipped arms to Tripoli to stop Haftar’s assault, diplomats say.

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 U.S. and European military intervention. 

The result has been political forces that have not been able to stabilize the nation. Libya has also transformed into a key point of departure for migrants from other African nations to head for Europe.

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