9 civilians killed in reported airstrike in Libya

© Ismail Zitouny
At least nine people were killed and 20 injured after military jets reportedly struck civilians near the town of Houn in central Libya. The UN-backed government has denied flying bombing missions in the area.

The Thursday airstrike near the oasis town was carried out by unidentified warplanes, according to eyewitnesses cited by Reuters.

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A spokesperson for forces of Libya’s rogue eastern government blamed the air force of the western government. According to the spokesperson, war planes from city of Misrata tried to target a brigade, which recently arrived to the area, but bombed the civilians instead.

A Libyan air force spokesman in Misrata, however, claimed that their war planes conducted only reconnaissance missions along the coast.

“Our air force did not reach that area. We only conducted reconnaissance in the coastal region,” Reuters quotes Mohamed Gonono, the spokesman, as saying.

Eyewitnesses said the planes attacked the civilians as they were visiting thermal springs to the south of the town. According to local doctors, at least nine people were killed and 20 wounded.

Armed forces of rogue eastern Libya government and the city of Misrata have been engaged in a sporadic clashes for more than two years. Forces of Misrata currently support UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli.

The sluggish conflict is feared to be evolving into a renewed full-scale civil war, as over the past few days the rebel forces seized four oil ports and advanced along the coast to within about 150 kilometers of Sirte, recently liberated from Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL).

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