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.

Just Posted

New app could address Wetaskiwin crime issues

‘Block Talk’ available now for Wetaskiwin residents

UPDATED Leduc RCMP seek older suspect in alleged assault

UPDATED Leduc RCMP seek public assistance in identifying assault suspect

Potato and cheese with Ecuadorian flavour

Soup recipe from south of the equator this week

County of Wetaskiwin ‘open for business’

Updated Hwy #2 development policy approved by council

Wetaskiwin offers good value for taxes: mayor

Tyler Gandam speaks to chamber of commerce about 2019 budget May 14

VIDEO: Canadian breaks women’s world record for longest plank

Dana Glowacka, of Montreal, held a plank for four hours and 20 minutes

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

Alberta NDP cries foul as Speaker Cooper names new legislature clerk

Shannon Dean will replace Merwan Saher as the clerk of the assembly effective immediately

‘Her life mattered:’ New trial ordered in death of Indigenous woman Cindy Gladue

In a 4-3 decision, Supreme Court said evidence about Cindy Gladue’s sexual history was mishandled

Emergency funds for High Level evacuees to start flowing by Monday

About 5,000 people in High Level and surrounding communities have been out of their homes for a week

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

No-vote option: Alberta legislature changing rules to allow MLAs to abstain

The changes are expected to pass, given that Kenney’s party has a majority of seats

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Most Read