Death toll rises in southern Libya attack, defence minister suspended

A member of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army fires a machine gun in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi

A suspected militia attack on Libya's Buraq Al-Shati air base reportedly killed at least 60 soldiers and civilians and wounded dozens on Thursday, according to the AP. The attack was blamed on the militia backing the Tripoli-based government of National Accord (GNA), which denies that it sanctioned the carnage.

Martin Kobler, special representative and head of the United Nations support mission in Libya, said in a statement on Friday that the dead included civilians, citing reports that "summary executions may have taken place".

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said the LNA's opponents attacked because they thought the brigade stationed at the base were still away after attending a major military parade near Benghazi.

Even though the Third Force is supposed to be under control of the GNA, the Presidential Council (PC) condemned the attack and said they had nothing to do with it and did not order the action.

The GNA said late on Friday that a commission of inquiry had been set up to investigate the attack.

It said it had made a decision to suspend its defence minister, al-Mahdi al-Barghati, and the head of the Third Force from their duties until those responsible were identified.

A brigade from the western city of Misrata had tried to take over the Brak El-Shati airbase which they had ceded to a faction aligned with Gen Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), the Reuters news agency reports.

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Reports suggest as many as 140 people, including civilians, may have died in an attack on an airbase in Libya. "Perpetrators must be brought to justice", he wrote on Twitter.

The base of Brak Al-Shati is 600 km south of Tripoli, in the area of Sebha where forces more or less connected to the two sides of Tripoli and Tobruk, the city of Cyrenaica, are facing off.

That attack was called off after a reconciliation meeting between Haftar and unity government head Fayez al-Sarraj in Abu Dhabi on 2 May.

The outlet cited a militia spokesperson who said their troops had wiped out all forces inside.

Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the eastern-based parliament, which is supported by the LNA, accused the Misurata-based Third Force of a "serious breach of the truce agreement reached in Abu Dhabi".

"We hope reason will prevail and that the escalation and provocation will stop", it said.

Also on Friday, a auto bomb south of Benghazi killed a prominent tribal leader linked to the LNA along with five other people.

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