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More than 120 dead as Libya rivals battle for control of Tripoli

AFP
Tripoli
Fighting near Tripoli has killed 121 people since strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive earlier this month to take the Libyan capital, the World Health Organization said Sunday.
In clashes between Haftar’s forces and those of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), both sides have proclaimed “advances” but neither appears to have made substantial progress on the ground in recent days.
With more than 560 people wounded since the fighting started on April 4, the WHO said it was sending more medical supplies and staff to Tripoli. On its Twitter feed, the agency denounced “repeated attacks on health care workers” and vehicles during the fighting.
The UN’s humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said Saturday that three medical personnel had been killed and that shrapnel had put five ambulances out of action. The mounting violence has sparked global alarm over the oil-rich country, in turmoil since NATO-backed forces overthrew former dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. A bewildering array of militias have sought to take control since his ouster. Haftar’s offensive began shortly before a conference set for this month to discuss Libya’s future–an event the UN cancelled as his forces closed in on the capital.
Haftar, who leads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), has pushed from his power base in the country’s east towards the Libyan capital in the west, the seat of the UN-backed unity government led by Fayez al-Sarraj.
The unity government said its forces had shot down an LNA fighter jet on Sunday “that was preparing to conduct air raids” south of Tripoli. An LNA source said the plane had come down in an area under its control and that the pilot, who had ejected, was “safe and sound”.

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