Shelling near the Turkish embassy and the Italian ambassador’s residence in the city’s Zawiat al-Dahmani neighbourhood on Thursday, described in an UNSMIL statement as “indiscriminate”, is thought to have killed at least two civilians and injured three others.
In the statement, UNSMIL expressed deep alarm at the intensification of such attacks, particularly at a time when Libyans Muslims are trying to peacefully observe Ramadan, and simultaneously battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These despicable actions are a direct challenge to calls by some Libyan leaders for an end to the protracted fighting and the resumption of the political dialogue”, the Mission declared.
The bloody month of May
May has already been extremely dangerous for Libyan civilians: over the first eight days of the month, homes and other civilian property have been damaged, and at least 15 people reportedly killed, with some 50 injured. Several Libyan neighbourhoods suffered indiscriminate attacks, said the Mission, mostly attributable to forces affiliated to the opposition Libyan National Army (LNA), including Abu Salim, Tajoura, al-Hadba al-Bari, Zanata and Zawit al-Dahmani.
On 5 May, houses were shelled in the al-Hadba neighborhood of Tripoli, killing two civilians and injuring three others, including a child. The following day, 6 May, was particularly deadly: houses were shelled in Tripoli’s Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli, resulting in at least one death, and 27 individuals were injured. On the same day, rockets hit several homes in Tajoura, reportedly resulting in the killing of three individuals and injuring 10 others, including three children.
“Once again, these attacks display a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law and human rights law, and may amount to war crimes”, declared UNSMIL. “All parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including complying with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attacks, to prevent civilian casualties”.
UNSMIL reiterated that those guilty of crimes under international law will be held to account, and committed to documenting violations and sharing them, where relevant, with the Panel of Experts and the International Criminal Court.