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Libyan guards 'opened fire' on migrants fleeing Tripoli airstrikes

Libyan guards reportedly shot at refugees and migrants attempting to flee from the airstrikes. [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 July, 2019

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Libyan guards reportedly shot at refugees and migrants attempting to flee airstrikes at a migrant detention centre in Tripoli that killed at least 53 people .

Libyan guards reportedly shot at refugees and migrants attempting to flee from airstrikes that killed at least 53 people at a migrant detention centre in Tripoli late on Tuesday, the United Nations reported.

A UN humanitarian report said that two airstrikes struck an unoccupied garage and a hangar thought to be housing around 600 refugees and migrants.

"There are reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape," the UN report said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres denounced the "horrendous" aerial attack and demanded an independent investigation, as a divided Security Council failed to condemn the strike.

The UN shared the coordinates of the Tajoura centre east of Tripoli with the warring sides to ensure that civilians sheltering there were safe, Guterres said.

UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said the "attack clearly could constitute a war crime, as it killed by surprise innocent people whose dire conditions forced them to be in that shelter".

Libya's internationally-recognised government has blamed the attack on commander Khalifa Haftar, who has denied responsibility.

Haftar launched an offensive in April from his eastern stronghold to take the capital, sparking a battle which has killed more than 700 people according to UN agencies.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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