CAIRO (AP) — Libya’s U.N.-backed government says 21 civilians have been killed, including at least 13 children, since Jan. 9 casting doubt on a fragile cease-fire the Tripoli-based government and rival factions in the east agreed last month to observe.
The Field Medicine and Support Center, a rescue group affiliated with the Tripoli government, late Wednesday released the names of civilians killed in Tripoli by Hifter’s forces between Jan. 9 and Feb 20. The list included another 31 civilians who were wounded.
Libya is divided between rival governments in the east and west and a patchwork of armed groups that support either administration. In April, eastern forces led by ex-general Khalifa Hifter launched an offensive to wrestle the capital from the western government led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj. The march on the capital has resulted in a military stalemate and spurred world leaders to intervene.
On Jan. 12, a cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey came into effect. However, skirmishes continued with both parties pointing fingers at each other for violating the fragile truce.
In the wake of intensified international diplomatic efforts, the U.N. launched three parallel tracks of negotiations in Geneva earlier this month to push the cease-fire and resolve various crises in the war-torn country. It’s an uphill battle in a country with competing political structures.
The U.N.’s support mission in Libya on Thursday condemned the latest shelling of Tripoli’s Mitiga airport. Earlier, authorities shut down the capital’s only functioning airport citing the attacks. A few hours later, the airport was re-opened.
On Wednesday, the U.N. said Libyan delegates met in Geneva to start the political negotiation track. But within hours, the meetings stalled. Both the High Council of State, an advisory body to the western Tripoli-based government, and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, which backs Hifter, asked that the talks be postponed. The dispute centered on which delegates should be selected to be in Geneva.