Executions Reported in Deadly Attack on Libyan Airbase

The base was held by soldiers opposed to the UN-backed Libyan government
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2017 9:55 AM CDT
Civilians Among 140 Reported Dead in Attack on Libya Airbase
The Libyan National Army, which is loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar, says its soldiers were executed by a militia loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government during an attack on an airbase Thursday.   (AP Photo/Mohammed El-Sheikhy, File)

An official in Libya says at least 140 people—including civilians—were killed in a strike on the Brak al-Shati airbase, more than doubling the original count from the attack Thursday, the BBC reports. According to the Guardian, the base was attacked by the Third Force militia, which is loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government. A spokesperson for the Third Force says they "liberated the base and destroyed all the forces inside." Brak al-Shati had been under the control of the Libyan National Army, a group that doesn't recognize the government and is loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar, since December.

An LNA spokesperson says most of the 140 casualties were unarmed soldiers returning from a military parade, adding most of them were "executed." The spokesperson says the dead also include civilians working on the base or in the vicinity. The UN-backed Libyan government condemned the attack, which it denied ordering. It says it has suspended the defense minister and the Third Force's commander pending an investigation. Martin Kobler, UN envoy to Libya, says the "unprovoked attack" could amount to a war crime, Al Jazeera reports. “I am outraged by reports of significant numbers of fatalities, including civilians and by reports that summary executions may have taken place,” Kobler says. The attack may also have breached a truce between Haftar and the government reached on May 2. (More Libya stories.)

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