Forces battling for control of Libya’s capital agreed to a truce Saturday, on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha, but a car bomb killed two UN staff in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces announced that they would implement a ceasefire after the unity government conditionally accepted the truce for the three-day holiday which starts Sunday.
Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has been fighting since early April to seize Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.
The United Nations had called on both sides to commit to a humanitarian truce by midnight on Friday.
Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari on Saturday announced “a halt to all military operations… in the suburbs of Tripoli”.
Mesmari said the truce had gone into effect at 3:00 PM (1300 GMT) on Saturday and would last until the same time on Monday afternoon.
The GNA had said late Friday it was keen to “ease the suffering of the citizens and allow rescue workers to accomplish their mission” and would accept “a humanitarian truce for Eid al-Adha”.
But it listed several conditions, saying the ceasefire must be observed “in all combat zones, with a cessation of direct and indirect fire and movement of troops”.
It also said the truce must include “a ban on flights and reconnaissance overflights” across the country’s entire airspace.
The GNA also called on the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to “ensure the implementation of the truce and note any breaches”.
Haftar’s spokesman said the ceasefire was “out of respect for this occasion’s place in our spirits… so that Libyan citizens can celebrate this Eid in peace”.
But in Haftar-controlled Benghazi, a car bombing killed two UN staff — a Libyan and a Fijian –– as a UN convoy passed through a shopping area, a security official said.
At least eight other people, including a child, were wounded in the attack.
Thick black smoke rose from the area and firefighters rushed to put out the flames that gutted two cars, including a white vehicle like those used by the UN.
No side had claimed responsibility for the blast.
The UN’s Libya envoy Ghassan Salame called the incident a “cowardly attack”.
It “serves as another strong reminder of the urgent need for Libyans to stop fighting, set aside their differences and work together through dialogue and not violence to end the conflict,” he said in a statement.
The European Union called the attack “contemptible and a further worrying development in the Libyan crisis”, urging all sides to abide by the UN-brokered truce.
The blast came just months after the UN reopened its offices in Benghazi, which had been closed for security consideration, and less than a month after a car bombing at the funeral of an ex-army commander killed at least four people and wounded more than 30 others.
Haftar’s forces have controlled Libya’s second city since 2017, when he drove hardline Islamists and jihadists out after a three-year battle.
But Benghazi, the cradle of the NATO-backed 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, has seen repeated attacks both before and since.
One attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
A May 2018 attack left seven people dead.
A Libyan lawmaker is also feared to have been abducted by an armed group in the eastern city, the UN and lawmakers said in July.
Haftar, who backs an eastern-based administration that opposes the Tripoli-based unity government, advanced into the country’s desert south this year before turning his sights on Tripoli.
Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced.
Forces loyal to the GNA are keeping Haftar’s troops at bay on the southern outskirts of the city.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian truces, without success.
In a video conference with the UN Security Council late last month, Salame warned against mounting tensions and called for a ceasefire for Eid Al-Adha.
Libyan Navy rescues 335 migrants, recovers 1 body
Nine children were among 57 migrants in a wooden boat rescued Saturday about 40 nautical miles from the town of Zuwara
The Libyan navy said Sunday 335 migrants had been rescued and one body recovered in separate operations off the coast, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
Nine children were among 57 migrants in a wooden boat rescued Saturday about 40 nautical miles from the town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told reporters.
He said they were from Ethiopia and Egypt.
The rescue came days after Libyan navy patrols on Tuesday “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats northwest and northeast of Tripoli”, Kacem added.
The operations took place off the coasts of the cities of Khoms, 120 kilometres east of Tripoli, and Sabratha, located 70 kilometres west of the capital.
According to the statement, 128 Sudanese were on the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea, including 35 women and 11 children.
One body was also recovered by the coastguard.
Libya, which has been facing transition crisis since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.
In general, migrants rescued at sea are first met by humanitarian agencies that provide medical care and food.
They are then taken into the charge of the body working to combat immigration at the interior ministry of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.
On August 9, the Libyan navy accused the authorities of failing to manage migrants rescued at sea, claiming that it could be forced to let people go free once brought back to land.
Despite the risks, migrants continue to attempt to reach Europe by sea, preferring to take their chances than stay in Libya, where they are subject to abuse, extortion and torture, according to humanitarian organisations.
President declares state of emergency in 2 provinces due to ethnic violence in Chad
The state of emergency will run for three months in Sila and Ouaddai regions
Chad President Idriss Deby declared a state of emergency in two eastern provinces on Sunday after violent intercommunal clashes left dozens dead earlier this month.
The state of emergency will run for three months in Sila and Ouaddai regions bordering Sudan where 50 people have died since August 9 in fighting between cattle herders and settled farmers, the president’s office said.
“From now, we will deploy military forces who are going to ensure the security of the population in the region,” Deby said while on a trip to Sila. “We must disarm all the civilians who have weapons in their hands,” he continued.
Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community. Herders have for decades moved their livestock through the Ouaddai region in rotations between summer and winter pastures.
Most of the herders’ animals belong to the president’s Zaghawa ethnic group, and the farmers say they often escape censure when unrest breaks out between the two sides. Similar conflicts between herders and farmers erupt in other African countries, notably Nigeria.
Drought and population growth have aggravated the conflict, while an influx of weapons from conflict-stricken neighbours have made it even more deadly. Deby earlier this month blamed the surge in violence partly fon an influx of guns to the former French colony from conflict zones in neighbouring Libya, Central African Republic and Sudan, where a protest movement ousted the president in April.
“The government has created special disarmament units. We take away the weapons, but the next day more arrives,” he said. The president described the violence as a “national concern”, adding: “We are witnessing a terrible phenomenon.”
“Those with guns are not hesitating to shoot the police. We must wage a total war against those who carry weapons and are killing people,” he said at the time. Legislative elections in Chad are scheduled to take place by the end of the year. They have been postponed several times since 2015 as Deby, who got into power in 1990, looks to maintain his rule of the country.
Deby hinted in June that military courts may be reintroduced in a bid to curb unrest, a suggestion denounced by the country’s opposition. Military justice, applied to civilians as well as the armed forces, was abolished in Chad in 1993. In 2016, the country also scrapped the death penalty, except for “terrorism”
Deby said the decades-long conflict over land in Ouaddai had spread since the start of this year to other regions where previously the communities lived side by side in an “exemplary” manner. He cited Sila where he said more than 40 people had been killed since January.
Libyan National Army attack Mitiga airport and Zuwara airfield
Libyan National Army said it targeted a hangar “which houses Turkish drones and their ammunition”.
Tripoli’s sole functioning airport Mitiga and Zuwara airfield were targeted for the second time in less than 48 hours – the former hit overnight Thursday and the latter on Friday morning.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) reported that three people were wounded in the raids by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar against the two airports under its control.
Airport management at Mitiga reported rocket fire against the runway “as planes took off and landed”.
The UN-recognised GNA said on Facebook that Haftar’s forces “targeted employees of the airport services company” at Mitiga with Grad missiles, causing shrapnel wounds to two workers and damaging a bus.
Flights were temporarily suspended or rerouted to Misrata, 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of Tripoli.
In the attack against Zuwara airfield, Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army said it targeted a hangar “which houses Turkish drones and their ammunition”.
The Tripoli-based GNA said a member of civil protection was wounded in that attack.
Pro-Haftar forces also “targeted other hangars… located 1.5 kilometres to the east of Abu Kamach”, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari said on Facebook.
The country’s biggest petrochemical complex is located there, near the Tunisian border.
Forces loyal to the GNA and the LNA are embroiled in a stalemate in Tripoli’s southern outskirts after Haftar launched an offensive against the capital in April.
Fighting over the last four months has killed 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, according to the World Health Organization.
Some 120,000 have been displaced over the same period.
Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Sudan announces new sovereign council to lead transition
Rwanda’s Skol brewer cancels sexist jokes on beer bottles after backlash
Nigeria’s FA reacts to FIFA’s ban on coach Siasia
Cameroonian separatist leader jailed for life
Liberian opposition MP accuses President Weah’s supporters of assassination plot
Rwanda’s Ubumuntu Arts Festival and the celebration of humanity
An app is helping reunite South Sudan’s ‘lost’ children with their families
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh accused of ordering migrant slaughter
How technology is helping Kenya win the war against poaching
Standing Strong for Albinism in Africa
World Humanitarian Day 2019: The humans making the world a better place
Africa’s giraffes threatened with ‘silent extinction’
Nigeria’s school for “Almajiri” graduates class of 2019
Africa in 60 – August 15, 2019
The burden of South Africa’s unidentified bodies
Top Story13 hours ago
Cameroonian separatist leader jailed for life
Politics1 day ago
Sudanese ex-President Bashir admits receiving $90 million from Saudi royal
Lifestyle News2 days ago
Egypt’s renovation of Baron Palace sparks online outcry
North Africa Politics2 days ago
Libyan Navy rescues 335 migrants, recovers 1 body
News2 days ago
Police, soldiers deployed to prevent banned march in Zimbabwe’s Bulawayo city
Politics2 days ago
Sudan’s new sovereign council faces delayed unveiling
Politics2 days ago
Cojep movement elects acquitted war criminal Ble Goude as President
Top Story1 day ago
Ebola kills 7-year-old boy in DR Congo’s South Kivu