Death toll in Libya crisis rises as battle for Tripoli intensifies

Death toll in Libya crisis rises as battle for Tripoli intensifies

Death toll in Libya crisis rises as battle for Tripoli intensifies

The Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar had taken up positions in the suburbs about 11 km (7 miles) south of the center, with steel containers and pickups with mounted machine-guns blocking their way into the city.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, Maria Ribeiro, said Monday the fighting had displaced more than 2,800 people, blocked rescuers from reaching casualties and damaged electricity lines.

But General Khalifa Haftar's decision last week to capture Tripoli, which is the base of the UN-backed Government of National Accord, has led to an escalation in fighting between the rival factions.

"Tripoli is a city of two million people and it's united against him".

An airstrike on the airport outside of Tripoli shut down the capital's only functioning airport.

The United Nations has expressed concerns over the civilians trapped in areas of clashes in the surroundings of the Libyan capital, which killed four civilians, including two doctors out of dozens of dead militants.

The UN also warns that those who remain risk being cut off from vital services because of the clashes.

"They tell us they can hear the clashes".

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that least 47 people were killed and 181 wounded in the first three days of fighting in the beleaguered North African country.

Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO's director for the eastern Mediterranean, said that targeting of medical staff was "unacceptable" and "worsens the situation for civilians caught up in conflict".

United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame met the Prime Minister in his Tripoli office to discuss "this critical and hard juncture", the UN's Libya mission said. Targeted attacks on health services were a violation of global law, the organisation said.

The US has appealed for an "immediate halt" to combat operations and the UN Security Council has called on Haftar's forces to stop their advance.

Michelle Bachelet said all parties to the conflict must make every effort to protect civilians.

In Cairo, Agila Saleh, head of Libya's east-based parliament, backed Hifter's offensive and the Libya National Army, saying that militias have been "hijacking" the capital.

The violence has cast doubt on the United Nations plan to hold a conference from 14 to 16 April to arrange for the elections, as a way out of the ongoing chaos since Gaddafi's ousting under Western support eight years ago.

Eastern forces and troops loyal to the government in Tripoli fought on the outskirts of Libya's capital on Wednesday as the battle forced thousands of residents to flee their homes. "It will protect them, their properties and freedom", he said after meeting with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit in Cairo. It took control of the coastal city of Sirte in 2015 but lost it the following year to local forces backed by USA air strikes, and now operates in the shadows.

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