Combatants in Libya committed “unlawful” attacks against civilians during fighting in the capital Tripoli, Amnesty International said Thursday, and called on the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on the war-ridden country.
The global rights group issued a statement quoting its Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director Magdalena Mughrabi as saying: “As the battle for Tripoli unfolds, the warring parties have displayed a shameful disregard for civilian safety and international humanitarian law by carrying out indiscriminate attacks on residential neighbourhoods.”
The statement said several densely populated areas in southern Tripoli were attacked with inaccurate weapons between April 13-17. Based on witnesses and satellite images, Amnesty concluded there was no evidence of any military targets in these areas that could justify the attacks.
Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an operation to retake the capital on April 4 and has been locked in heavy fighting in and around the city with militias loosely allied with a UN-supported government based there. Khalifa is aligned with a rival government based in the east.
According to The World health organization 443 people have died, 2,110 have been wounded and nearly 60,000 have been displaced by the violence.
Amnesty International could not conclusively identify the attackers but most witnesses interviewed by the group’s representatives blamed LNA forces, the statement said.
The statement also accused Libyan authorities of subjecting migrants to danger by detaining 500 of them in Tajoura detention centre, in eastern Tripoli, near a warehouse that was targeted by air strikes and which detainees said was used to store weapons.
“The images also show many armoured vehicles in the area, suggesting that fighters are using the compound of the detention centre as a military complex,” according to the statement.
The statement also quotes two anonymous migrants who claimed they were forced to engage in conflict-related activities such as loading and unloading guns and cleaning heavy machine-guns.