It was the latest attack on civilians in the fighting over Tripoli between eastern-based forces under military commander Khalifa Haftar and an array of militias loosely allied with the UN-supported government in the capital.

This file picture taken on May 9, 2020 in the day in the residential Bab Bin Ghashir neighbourhood of Libya's capital Tripoli shows a view of a destroyed car following bombardment earlier in the day.
This file picture taken on May 9, 2020 in the day in the residential Bab Bin Ghashir neighbourhood of Libya's capital Tripoli shows a view of a destroyed car following bombardment earlier in the day. (MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP)

Bombs hit a shelter for displaced people in Libya’s capital Tripoli, killing at least seven people including a five-year-old child from Bangladesh, health authorities said on Sunday.

The shelling of the facility in the city's Furnaj district late Saturday also wounded at least 17 people, including a 52-year-old Bengali migrant and his five-year-old child, Malek Merset, a spokesman for the capital’s ambulance services, said. The man is also the father of the dead child.

It was the latest attack on civilians in the fighting over Tripoli between eastern-based militias loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar and the UN-supported government in the capital.

A fire broke out in parts of the shelter housing people displaced by previous clashes in Tripoli, Merset said.

The ambulance services did not say which side was responsible for the shelling.

Warlord Haftar, launched an offensive to take Tripoli in April last year. In recent weeks, the fighting has intensified as foreign backers of the two sides stepped up their military support.

Haftar is backed by France and Russia, as well as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and other key Arab countries.

Earlier this year, UN-backed government forces took several western towns from Haftar's militias and stepped up their attacks using drones on a key military base and the town of Tarhuna.

Fighting continues

The Libyan army shot down on Sunday another air defence system and a drone of renegade warlord Haftar in the southwest of the capital.

Libyan military spokesman Col. Mohamed Qanunu said in a statement that air strikes were carried out against Haftar militias at the al Watiya airbase.

Another Russian-made Pantsir type air defence system and Chinese-made Wing Loong II type armed unmanned aerial vehicle, both supplied by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), were destroyed in the air strikes, Qanunu added.

Two arms depot at the airbase were also targeted by the Libyan army, he said.

On Saturday, the army destroyed the first Pantsir system supplied by the UAE.

Al Watiya is regarded as a key air base and is second only to Mitiga Airport. It was captured in August 2014 by Haftar, the leader of illegally armed forces in eastern Libya, who used it as his headquarters for operations.

The air strike came as a part of operations to cut supplies to Haftar's militias.

Haftar intensified attacks on civilians since the beginning of May as the Libyan army recently gained advantage and inflicted severe losses on his militants.

The government has been under attack by Haftar's militias since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya's government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political deal.

UAE firms supplying arms, mercenaries to support Haftar

A company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) apparently has set up a company in Jordan through which it has spent at least $18 million to purchase six helicopters and two boats to support warlord Haftar by raiding ships off the coast of Libya.

An AA correspondent was able to access these secret documents prepared by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Libya Sanctions Committee and talked with experts who have examined these letters.

According to information in these documents, the expert panel of the committee received a tip mid-January that a UAE-headquartered firm was trying to set up a special team of mercenaries to support Haftar.

The Dubai-headquartered Fulcrum Holding firm bought three Super Puma type helicopters from South Africa via another firm it has set up in Jordan claiming they would be used for "geographic research".

The helicopters were first sent to Jordan, and from there to Libya and this process was mediated by Starlite Aviation of South Africa.

An expert who examined the documents said it was unclear whether the aviation company mediated purchasing or transfer transactions.

Fulcrum Holding bought three French-made SA 341 attack helicopters from Gabon to send to Libya.

Malta headquartered Sovereign Charterers company bought two MRC1250 boats each with 20 person capacity for the special mercenary team to use to support Haftar.

US news organisation Bloomberg on May 15 had reported that two Dubai headquartered companies sent 20 Western mercenaries to Libya in an effort to help Haftar take over Tripoli.

The expert who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the documents include the information that 20 to 25 mercenaries went to Benghazi and received the helicopters and boats, and that the reason for the purchase of six old helicopters and two boats is so that the special team could raid ships passing by the Libyan coast and seeking military equipment on docked vessels.

The expert added that to avoid being caught or noticed via satellite the military helicopters and boats were tagged with the logo of the Jordanian company in order to pretend they were conducting geographical research.

UAE's UN permanent representative left the AA journalist’s questions unanswered.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies