Nearly 40 killed and dozens wounded in air strike on a migrant detention centre in Libyan capital, health officials say.
An air strike late on Tuesday hit a detention centre for mainly African migrants in the Tajoura suburb of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, killing dozens, according to Reuters and AFP news agencies.
Reuters reported at least 40 people killed and 80 others wounded in the strike quoting a health official, while emergency services spokesman Osama Ali told AFP nearly 40 people were killed and the death toll could rise.
“This is a preliminary assessment and the toll could rise,” Ali said, adding that 120 migrants were detained in the hangar, which was directly hit by the strike.
Several bodies lay on the floor of the hangar in Tajoura, while ambulances rushed to the scene.
Centre officials blamed the raid on the forces of Libyan renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who has been fighting the internationally recognised government based in Tripoli for the past three months.
Pictures published by Libyan officials showed African migrants undergoing surgery in a hospital after the strike.
Al Jazeera however, could not independently verify the casualty figures.
Libya is a main departure point for migrants from Africa and Arab countries trying to reach Italy by boat, but many get picked up by the Libyan coast guard supported by the European Union.
Thousands are being held in government-run detention centres in what human rights groups say are often inhuman conditions.
Tajoura, east of Tripoli’s centre, is home to several military camps of forces allied to Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which for three months has been battling Haftar forces trying to take Tripoli.
On Monday, the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) said it would start heavy air strikes on targets in Tripoli after “traditional means” of war had been exhausted.
The Haftar-led LNA, which controls much of eastern and southern Libya, denied it had hit the detention centre, saying militias allied to Tripoli had shelled it after a precision air strike by the LNA on a camp.
The LNA has failed to take Tripoli in three months of fighting and last week lost its main forward base in Gharyan, which was taken back by Tripoli forces.
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