Libya conflict: What is happening in Libya? Why did a drone strike Libya?

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Libya has been in a state of turmoil since the Arab Spring protests in 2011 which led to a civil war, foreign military intervention and the ousting and death of Muammar Gaddafi. In the aftermath, the oil-rich country became home to scenes of serious fighting between rival armed groups which led to violence and instability across the entire country eventually reigniting civil war in 2014. Over the past eight years, the war has killed tens of thousands of people, but what happened in the recent drone attack which saw at least 43 people killed?

A local official reported that at least 43 people have died in a drone strike in south-western Libya.

The strike which hit a town hall meeting in the town of Murzaq, was carried out by the forces of rebel Gen Khalifa Haftar according to reports.

It is the second major air strike blamed on the eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces who are loyal to Khalifa.

The first incident killed at least 44 migrants at a detention centre in the suburb of the capital Tripoli in June.

According to Reuters, the LNA confirmed a strike late on Sunday on Murzuq, but denied it had targeted any civilians.

The LNA also denied it had hit the detention centre, but acknowledged increased air strikes on the capital.

The internationally recognised government based in Tripoli which opposes Haftar said dozens were killed and wounded in Murzuq after the drone strike.

Murzuq municipal council member Mohamed Omar told Reuters: “The air strike resulted in 43 killed and 51 wounded. This is only an initial toll of casualties.”

Earlier this year, the LNA rebel forces seized Murzuq as part of an offensive tactic to control the oil-producing south.

However, it later moved its forces to the north where it has been trying to take the capital Tripoli for the past four months.

In its statement, the LNA said the strike had targeted “Chadian opposition fighters” which is typically used to refer to Tebu tribesmen opposing them in the area.

Khalifa Haftar’s organisation is allied to a parallel government based in eastern Libya.

The LNA said it would begin heavy air strikes after “traditional means” of war had been exhausted.

So far, its advances on the heavily protected Tripoli defences have failed.

According to the World Health Organisation, the previous months of fighting between the GNA and Mr Haftar’s forces has claimed more than 1,000 lives since April.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) condemned the attack on social media and accused Gen Haftar’s forces of carrying it out.

It also urged the UN to “carry out an investigation into the crimes committed by Haftar’s militias in Murzuq”.

On Sunday, the UN Libya mission (UNSMIL) also issued a statement castigating the attackers for “the repeated indiscriminate shelling” of Tripoli’s only functioning airport following a series of strikes in over the past few days.

Haftar’s continued attempts to capture Tripoli has derailed all attempts by the UN to broker a peace treaty and end the chaos which has plagued Libya since the NATO-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

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