TRIPOLI – Shelling of residential areas of Libya’s second city Benghazi killed at least eight children this week, the United Nations said, warning that such attacks may amount to war crimes.
The UNSMIL mission to Libya, in a statement posted on its website, did not specify exactly when or where the children were killed nor indicate who may have been behind the deadly attacks.
It condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the targeting of residential areas of Libyan cities that also included Gharyan, south of Tripoli, and Zawiya to the west of the capital.
UN envoy “Bernardino Leon strongly deplores the death of at least eight children and the injury of four more, as a result of the shelling of residential areas of Benghazi on two occasions this week,” said the UNSMIL statement issued late Friday.
“The artillery shelling of residential neighbourhoods in the cities of Gharyan and Zawiya are also a tragic reminder of the heavy toll borne by the Libyan people in this conflict.
“UNSMIL reminds all parties that attacks against civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law and can constitute war crimes.”
Libya’s government said on its Facebook page that seven children and one man were killed in shelling that hit residential areas of Benghazi on Tuesday night.
The government, which is based in the east of the country, had already announced on Facebook on Wednesday that four other children from the same family were killed the day before in shelling of Benghazi.
It was unclear from the statement if these four children were the same that the UN mission said had been wounded.
Libya plunged into lawlessness after the 2011 NATO war on the nation, with armed groups battling for control of the North African country’s oil wealth and cities.
The chaos has been further compounded with the country politically divided, with rival governments and parliaments vying for power and the Islamic State group also spreading its influence.