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Friday, September 30, 2016

Nine children killed in bombing by unidentified aircraft in southwestern Libya

At least nine civilians including children and women were killed and twenty wounded in an air strike by unidentified war planes near an oasis town in central Libya according to a hospital doctor and local officials.

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The strikes were near the town of Houn or Hun. the capital of the Jufra district of southwest Libya. The town is 240 km south of Sirte, and 272 km north of Sabha. In the area armed groups from forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) but also from General Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) loyal to the eastern HoR government both operate.
A spokesperson for the LNA said that the planes were from the western city of Misrata loyal to the GNA who meant to target an LNA brigade that had recently been in the area. But a spokesperson for the Misrata air force denied the claim saying that planes only carried out reconnaissance in the coastal area.
An eyewitness from Houn said residents heard war planes overhead before learning that civilians had been hit as the were visiting thermal springs south of the city. Many of the victims came from the nearby town of Al Shgega.
The Libyan Gazette gave a casualty figure of eight with twenty wounded.. The local hospital in Houn was said to be in a chaotic state.
Another report quotes Ahmed al-Mesmari, the spokesperson for forces loyal to Haftar as saying that fighter jets from Misrata carried out the raids while targeting Haftar's forces. He said no fighters were killed. Reda Eissa, a media official with the Misrata forces denied that they had carried out any raids in the area on Tuesday.
There were numerous twitters about the incident. Many seem to have been planted by one side or the other. Some were not verified and turned out to be false. Here is one blaming the GNA forces: " Airstrikes on #LNA position near #Jufrah by Libyan Dawn AF (GNA). They also hit a farm and killed 5 women. Via al Jufrah now" Another claims it resulted from a recent meeting of military officials loyal to the GNA: "Officers loyal to GNA met yesterday at Misrata airbase, resulting in today' airstrikes targeting LNA in Jufra #Libya". Another tweet mentions the specific brigade that was the alleged target of the attacks: "LNA 12th Bridage (led by Mohamed Bin Nael): No members wounded in air strike on Nina agricultural project in Jufrah " The actual place is called an agricultural project. Other reports speak of a farm and another of hot springs.
Whatever happened it was a tragedy that should not have happened. A tweet observes: "7 killed + a child lost her mother after airstrikes in #Jufra Only civilians will pay the price if civil war continues in #Libya #PRT "

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