ADVANCE FOR PUBLICATION ON TUESDAY, APR. 16, AND THEREAFTER - FILE - This Sept. 21, 2018 file photo, shows fighters under the UN backed government on the front lines during clashes in southern Tripoli. Libya is on the verge of an all-out war involving a rogues’ gallery of militias, many of which are little more than criminal gangs armed with heavy weapons. The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, launched a surprise offensive to retake Tripoli on April 5, 2019. Hifter’s opponents view him as an aspiring dictator. (AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa, File)

WHO: Over 200 killed in fighting over Libyan capital

The U.N. says that more than 25,000 people have been displaced in the clashes

The fighting between Libya’s rival factions for control of the country’s capital this month killed 205 people so far, the World Health Organization said, announcing it would deploy medical specialists, including surgeons, to treat the wounded.

The clashes, which erupted earlier in April, have threatened to ignite a civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The fighting has also forced the U.N. to indefinitely postpone reconciliation talks planned for mid-April that were meant to try to find a way to pull Libya out of the chaos that followed Gadhafi’s ouster.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York that “the number of civilian casualties, and attacks on civilian property and infrastructure, are worryingly on the rise.”

READ MORE: UN says 146 killed in Libya as Italy calls for cease-fire

Ghassan Salame, the U.N. envoy for Libya, briefed the Security Council behind closed doors from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and told members he was very concerned at the proliferation of weapons.

German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, the current council president, told reporters after the meeting he was especially concerned that rockets were fired into civilian areas on two occasions and said “with the influx of arms the risk of escalation, of course, increases.”

WHO said Wednesday it would send medical staff to treat the wounded, whose number has reached 913. It wasn’t clear how many among the dead are civilians.

Fighting over Tripoli is pitting the self-styled Libyan National Army, which is led by commander Khalifa Hifter and aligned with a rival government based in the country’s east, against militias affiliated with Tripoli’s U.N.-supported government.

The U.N. says that more than 25,000 people have been displaced in the clashes.

Meanwhile, Hifter’s forces said they recaptured Thursday the Tamanhint air base in southern Libya, which had been taken earlier by an armed group affiliated with the Tripoli government.

The armed group, known as the South Protection Forces, initially said it seized 15 armoured vehicles and ammunition when it took the base but Mohammed al-Fares, a spokesman for Hifter’s fighters, later said they were back in control.

The base is located near the southern city of Sabha and has strategic significance for control of Libya’s south, which Hifter’s forces seized earlier this year before moving westward on to Tripoli.

Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman, said the United Nations is “deeply concerned” about reported clashes at the Tamanhint air base “and the potential for widening confrontations in other areas of the country.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of ex-slaves in Libya coming to Canada, immigration minister says

On the humanitarian front, he said U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock allocated $2 million from the United Nations’ emergency relief fund to help hospitals get surgical and trauma kits, provide food and other items to people uprooted by fighting, and help relocate vulnerable migrants and refugees.

“Moving civilians out of conflict-affected areas remains a challenge, with nearly all main roads reportedly blocked and there being a high risk of being hit in crossfire,” Dujarric said. “Nearly all local trade has ceased in these areas.”

Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that aid workers continue to provide assistance when they have access and have helped 6,000 people since the start of the crisis.

The Security Council has been debating a British-drafted resolution calling for a cease-fire but a vote was delayed until next week because several countries wanted more time for consultations.

Diplomats, who insisted on speaking anonymously because discussions have been private, said Russia has objected to any mention that its ally, the self-styled Libyan National Army, launched the offensive and the United States also had several concerns.

Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Karen Pierce, said, “There is unity around three key points — de-escalation, commitment to a cease-fire, get back into the political process.”

___

Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Rami Musa, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

Potholes in Vanderhoof recurring due to weather, says district office

Potholes in Vanderhoof are being fixed, but ‘northern winter weather’ is the… Continue reading

Northern Health recommends self-quarantine for people returning from Hubei

The healthcare provider said it isn’t neccessary for healthy children to wear face masks

Wet’suwet’en return to camps near Houston, Coastal GasLink workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Still no contract for Canada Post workers

Vanderhoof postal workers will wear black every Friday to raise awareness about their situation

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Via Rail lays off 1,000 employees temporarily as anti-pipeline blockades drag on

The Crown corporation has suspended passenger trains on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto

VIDEO: Knife-wielding man arrested after barricading himself in Lower Mainland Walmart

A man had barricaded himself in the freezer section of the fish area at a Walmart in Richmond

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

B.C. widow ‘crushed’ over stolen T-shirts meant for memorial blanket

Lori Roberts lost her fiancé one month ago Tuesday now she’s lost almost all she had left of him

Higher costs should kill Trans Mountain pipeline, federal opposition says

Most recent total was $12.6 billion, much higher than a previous $7.4-billion estimate

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they’ll meet with ministers if RCMP get out

Federal minister in charge of Indigenous relations has proposed a meeting to diffuse blockades

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Most Read