An airstrike early Wednesday hit a detention center for migrants in Tripoli, killing at least 40 people and wounding dozens more, Libya's United Nations-backed government said. The government blamed rebel general Khalifa Hafter, whose Libyan National Army has been trying to take Tripoli since April but suffered the loss of a strategically important town last week. Local media reported that Hafter's forces had launched airstrikes against a government-aligned militia near the detention center in Tripoli's Tajoura neighborhood.
Two migrants told The Associated Press that the hanger hit by the strike held about 150 migrants, mostly from Sudan and Morocco, and that only about 25 survived the blast. Most of the 6,000 African migrants held by militias in Libyan detention centers were apprehended by Libya's European Union-funded coast guard while trying to reach Europe by sea. The United Nations says more than 3,000 of the migrants are being held close to the front lines of the battle between Hafter's forces and the government.
The U.N.-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli and its allied militias are supported by Turkey and Qatar, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt back Hafter's forces; Egypt has supplied the LNA with old MiG fighter jets and other munitions. The U.S. backed the GNA until April, when Trump appeared to have thrown his support behind Hafter after a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.