The UN ambassador to Libya has voiced “outrage” at reports of “significant” fatalities in an attack by a militia loyal to the unity government on a military base controlled by rival forces.
Martin Kobler, special representative and head of the UN support mission in Libya, said in a statement on Friday that the dead included civilians, citing reports that “summary executions may have taken place”.
Members of the Third Force militia loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli attacked an air base used by military leader Khalifa Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), according to military sources.
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Both the GNA and defence ministry condemned Thursday’s attack and said they had not ordered any such action, vowing to investigate and sanction those responsible.
On Friday, GNA said in a statement that it suspended Mahdi al-Barghathi, its defence minister, and ordered an investigation to determine his role in Thursday’s incident.
Jamal al-Treiki, the commander of the Third Force Battalion was also suspended, the statement said.
There was no independent word on casualties in the assault on the Brak al-Shati base, 650km south of Tripoli, but Libyan media reported at least 60 dead.
Britain’s ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett, also denounced the airbase assault.
“Disgusted by attack on Brak al-Shati & reports of mass executions. Perpetrators must be brought to justice,” he wrote on Twitter.
The unity government, and the rival administration in eastern Libya and their respective backers are battling for influence in the North African country which has been wracked by chaos since the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The LNA does not recognise the authority of the GNA, and instead supports the rival authorities based in the east.
The incident at the Brak base in Wadi al-Shati district came a month after an attack by the LNA on the Tamenhant air…