World

Port hit by barrage of rocket fire in Libyan capital, say witnesses

AFP-JIJI

A port in the capital of war-torn Libya was hit by a barrage of rocket fire on Tuesday, witnesses said.

The Tripoli port, used by merchant shipping and the navy, was cordoned off by security forces and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

“The rockets flew over our heads and hit one of the quays at the Al-Shaab port,” a resident of the central district of Dahra told AFP.

“So far there have been more than 15 rockets and the bombardment is ongoing.”

A column of smoke rising from the port area was visible from across Tripoli, the target of a months-long operation by eastern military commander Khalifa Hifter to oust the U.N.-recognized unity government.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strikes.

Other witnesses said port workers had quickly left the area.

Video shared on social media appeared to show aircraft preparing to land at the city’s sole functioning airport before changing direction.

The rocket fire was the latest violation of a tenuous cease-fire that came into effect in January.

Hifter launched his offensive on Tripoli last April, but after rapid advances his forces stalled on the edges of the capital.

The fighting has left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced some 140,000 according to the United Nations.

The cease-fire brokered by Hifter backer Russia and Turkey, which supports the unity government, took effect on Jan. 12. Each side accuses the other of breaking it.

The U.N. on Tuesday welcomed a new European Union naval operation to enforce a much-violated arms embargo on Libya as the warring sides met for military talks in Geneva.

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