UN says attack on Tripoli seaport could have caused ‘catastrophe’

An attack by Libya’s eastern forces, the previous day, on the seaport of the capital Tripoli could have caused a “catastrophe,” the UN said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) based in the east said its forces had struck an arms depot at the Tripoli port in spite of a fragile ceasefire with its Tripoli-based rivals.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned the attack, saying it had caused unspecified casualties and could have led to a “real catastrophe” had a nearby vessel transporting liquefied gas been hit.

“The mission calls for an end to the escalation and provocative actions,’’ UNSMIL said in an online statement.

In reaction to the attack, the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, the target of a months-long LNA offensive, announced it was suspending its participation in UN-sponsored military talks in Geneva.

UNSMIL on Wednesday called for the resumption of talks by Libya’s joint 5+5 military commission.

The commission, made up of five senior officers from each of Libya’s two rival parties, was set up after a Jan. 19 conference in Berlin, where international leaders promised to uphold a UN arms embargo.

Upholding the arms embargo will enable a peace process and end outside interference and military support for fighting factions.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and has become a battleground for rival proxy forces, which has drawn in foreign powers.

Since April, the LNA forces led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar have been trying to seize Tripoli, from the GNA Government recognised by the UN. 

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