At least 40 people have been killed in an air raid at a detention centre for refugees and migrants in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, according to health and emergency officials.
Malek Mersek, a spokesman for the state emergency medical services, said 80 others were wounded in the attack late on Tuesday.
The centre, which is located next to a military camp in the eastern suburb of Tajoura, houses more than 600 people, but the part that was hit held some 150 male refugees and migrants from African countries such as Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.
The United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) blamed the raid on the forces of Libyan renegade General Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has been fighting to seize Tripoli for the past three months.
“This crime came after the statements of the air force commander of Haftar’s Libyan National Army, Muhammad al-Manfour, and therefore it is he who bears its legal and moral responsibility,” Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha told al-Wasat state radio.
On Monday, Manfour said aerial bombardment will be stepped up because “traditional means” to “liberate Tripoli” had been exhausted, and urged residents to stay away from what he called “confrontation areas”.
Emergency workers recover bodies after the air attack killed dozens [Mahmud Turkia/AFP]
Reporting from the scene after the air raid, Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed said rescuers were searching for survivors as ambulances rushed in to transfer those wounded to medical centres.
“It’s very tragic here, dead bodies are still under the rubble,” he said.
“This is not the first time that Haftar forces have targeted the centre. It came under attack in April when Haftar’s forces began their campaign to capture Tripoli,” Al Jazeera’s Abdelwahed said.
“Military sources in the government say Haftar’s forces are committing war crimes by targeting civilians and residential areas.”