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Five dead in Libya hospital airstrike

Fathi Nasri, AFP |A Libyan L-39 Albatros warplane belonging to forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar, after it made an emergency landing in the southeastern Tunisian town of Medenine on July 22, 2019

Libyan authorities say an airstrike hit a field hospital south of the capital, Tripoli, killing at least four doctors and a paramedic.

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A spokesman for the health ministry of the UN-supported government of Libya, says the attack took place late Saturday in the Zawya district.

Forces based in the country's east are currently fighting for control of the capital's southern outskirts against militias allied with the Tripoli-based government.

The government blamed the airstrike on the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar. The LNA could not immediately be reached for comment.

The government in Tripoli has weathered the initial onslaught and since then fighting has remained deadlocked on the outskirts of the city, with both sides resorting to air strikes.

"The field hospital located on the airport road (south of Tripoli) was hit by an air raid. Five doctors were killed and seven other people, including rescuers, wounded," health ministry spokesman Lamine al-Hashemi said.

The strike occurred on Saturday and was carried out by "a Haftar warplane", he said.

"It was a direct hit against the hospital which was packed with medical teams," Hashemi added.

The attack was the third to target a hospital south of the capital.

On July 16 three doctors and a paramedic were wounded in a strike on the Swani hospital near the capital, the second time it was targeted.

The World Health Organisation and rights groups have repeatedly called on both sides in the conflict to spare medical personnel, clinics and hospitals.

The fighting since April has left nearly 1,100 people dead and wounded more than 5,750, according to the WHO. More than 100,000 civilians have fled their homes.

Haftar's LNA began its offensive on Tripoli in early April, but the battle lines have changed little in recent weeks.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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