Airstrikes in Libya a mystery; 6 dead

CAIRO — Airstrikes launched by an unknown party targeting Islamist-led militias in Libya’s capital killed six people Monday, authorities said, as the interim government vowed to investigate the strikes amid raging street battles.

The confusion over who launched the two fighter jets shows the chaos still engulfing Libya after its 2011 civil war, which toppled longtime dictator Moammar Khadafy.

In a statement, the government demanded the chief of staff and military intelligence to investigate the predawn strikes on Tripoli Monday morning targeting positions of militias originally from the coastal city of Misrata and its Islamist allies.

The strikes, under the cover of darkness, sparked fears that a foreign country such as Italy carried out the attack, as the Libyan military does not have aircraft that can fly at night, according to a former colonel in the Libyan air force.


Libya’s newly elected Parliament recently asked the United Nations to protect its civilians and stop the fighting. Italy’s ambassador to Libya denied his country was involved.

Ahmed Hadiya, the spokesman for Libya Shield, an umbrella group for militias, suggested that the warplanes took off from the Wittiya air base west of Tripoli and targeted a base taken over by his militias recently. He did not provide more details.

A militiaman from the coastal city of Misrata said the jets belong to forces allied to renegade General Khalifa Hifter. The militiaman spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to journalists.

Ali al-Shekhli, an army spokesman, later told television station al-Naba that the jet fighters were ‘‘foreign’’ and urged the government to take action against what he described as a ‘‘blatant foreign intervention.’’

A statement by the Libyan Army chief of staff’s media office said that jets used ‘‘guided bombs’’ not in the possession of the Libyan army.


Associated Press