At least 14 people have been injured in attacks on a hospital and residential areas in the Libyan capital Tripoli, which the United Nations-recognised government blamed on rival eastern forces led by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
Forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said the attack targeted the dermatology department at the Tripoli Central Hospital, and that a fire broke out at a citizen’s house in the area caused by missiles launched by Haftar’s forces.
Amin al-Hashemi, a health ministry spokesman, said some parts of the hospital building were damaged and added that children were among the injured.
Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying to capture Tripoli from the GNA since April 2019, resulting in more than 1,000 people’s death.
The attack on the hospital came hours after seven UN organisations called on rival parties to halt their fighting to enable authorities and aid organisations to focus on stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus.
There were 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including three deaths, in different parts of the country, a UN agency said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This shows that local/community transmission is taking place. The risk of further escalation of the outbreak is very high,” it added.
Violence between Haftar’s forces and the GNA has been raging in recent weeks despite repeated international calls for a humanitarian truce in Libya to focus on the fight against the coronavirus.
Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.
Since 2015, the country has been split between rival administrations in the east and the west, each backed by armed groups supported by an array of foreign powers.
Haftar’s offensive is supported by France and Russia, as well as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other key Arab countries.
The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey, which deployed troops and fighters to help defend the capital in January, as well as by Italy and Qatar.