Libyan officials: Airstrike kills 3 civilians in Tripoli


CAIRO (AP) — An airstrike slammed into a house in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Monday, killing at least three civilians and wounding two others including a child, health authorities said.

Tripoli has been the scene of fighting between rival militias since April. The U.N.-supported but weak government holds the capital, while forces associated with Gen. Khalifa Hifter are trying to seize it.

The Tripoli-based government blamed the airstrike on Hifter's forces, the so-called Libyan National Army. The LNA said the strike targeted a military camp that the Tripoli militias used as an "operation room." It denied targeting a civilian residence.

The airstrike took place Monday in the Firnaj district, a few kilometers (miles) from the city center, said Malek Merset, a spokesman the health ministry. He said the wounded were a mother and her child, who were taken to a nearby hospital.

The Red Crescent in Tripoli said the dead were children.

The U.N. Support Mission in Libya said it was "shocked by this attack" which ended "the lives of three innocent young girls of the same family, burying them under the rubble of a house razed by an airstrike."

It called in a statement for "the immediate cessation of such indiscriminate attacks."

Fighting for Tripoli has stalled in recent weeks, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along the city's southern reaches. The months of combat have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.

The fighting threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Libya has been divided into rival governments, with Tripoli controlling parts of the country's west, and a rival government in the east aligned with Hifter's force. Each side is backed by an array of militias and armed groups fighting over resources and territory.