Libyan army airstrikes hit targets in west, kill 8

AP News
Posted: Dec 02, 2014 10:09 AM

CAIRO (AP) — Army airstrikes on Tuesday hit a warehouse and a factory in a western Libyan city, killing eight people and wounding 24 as the country's warring sides gave different accounts of the attack.

The strikes took place in Zwara, 110 kilometers (70 miles) west of the capital, Tripoli.

Hafez Moammar, a security spokesman in the city, which is allied with Tripoli's Islamist-dominated authorities, said one strike hit a warehouse used to store food and the other a chemical factory.

But an army spokesman said the buildings were arms depots used by "terrorists" — a term Libya's military and the elected government, based in the country's east, use for Islamist militias or militants.

The town's Media Center said on its Facebook page that eight people were killed, two Libyans and six African workers. Those wounded include 14 Libyans and 10 foreign workers. It was unclear if anyone was killed in the factory.

Moammar said the warplanes were operating under the command of Khalifa Hifter, a former army general who last spring launched an offensive against Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi. In August, the Islamist militias took Tripoli while in October, Hifter and Libya's elected government joined ranks against the militias.

A spokesman for Hifter's forces, Mohammed Hegazi, said they had warned their rivals against using "ports and airports" to transport weapons, ammunition and fighters.

Zwara's Media Center posted footage of the strikes, showing black smoke rising into the sky. A video purportedly from inside the warehouse shows partially destroyed walls and ceiling, scattered bags of flour on the floor and a bombed-out truck as a voice-over sarcastically says, "Look, here is the ammunition."

Since taking Tripoli, the Islamist-allied militias revived a former parliament and set up their own government there. Libya's elected, internationally recognized government has been forced to relocate to the country's calmer far east.

The fighting — Libya's worst crisis the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi — has left the country with two rival governments and parliaments, displaced hundreds of thousands of people and driven out foreigners and diplomats.