The attack was carried out by rival groups against a military base in the south of libya. At least 141 people, most of the soldiers loyal to the strong man of the east of libya, marshal Khalifa Haftar have been killed. According to military sources, the 3rd Force, a powerful armed group in the city of Misrata (north), informally loyal to the government of national unity (GNA), led on Thursday an attack on the air force base in Brak al-Shati, which is controlled by the libyan national Army (ANL), self-proclaimed by the marshal Haftar. Ahmad al-Mesmari, spokesman of the libyan national Army (ANL, self-proclaimed by Haftar) was reported Friday evening of 141 dead and many injured and missing in the attack.
Among the victims also include civilians who worked on the base or nearby, he said during a press conference. According to him, “the soldiers killed were returning from a military parade in eastern Libya. Most of them were not armed. They were executed”. TheUN had said earlier a large number of deaths and “information on operations”, without giving details. “I am outraged by the information on a large number of deaths, including civilians, and reports that summary executions could not have taken place,” responded the UN envoy in Libya, Martin Kobler. The GNA has set up a commission of inquiry and decided to “suspend the minister of Defence, al-Mahdi al-Barghathi, commander of the 3rd Force until they have identified the responsible” for the attack, according to a decision released Friday evening. The GNA and the ministry of Defense had both condemned the attack Thursday, saying that he does not have a given order in this sense.
The basis of Brak al-Shati is located 650 km south of Tripoli, in a desert region, and marginalized, where the State is virtually absent from libya is that Libya is plunged into chaos following the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Clashes regular opposition militias and tribes for control of any kind of trafficking is very lucrative with the Chad, the Niger and the Sudan’s neighbours. Controlling a full party and the southern libyans, the marshal Haftar is supported by the elected Parliament based in Tobruk (eastern), hostile as himself to the GNA that, as a result of an agreement interlibyen signed at the end of 2015 in Morocco under the auspices of the UN.
A meeting in early may in Abu Dhabi between the head of the GNA, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the marshal Haftar, has allowed a timid rapprochement between the two men that had agreed to stop a military escalation in the south. Since the beginning of the month of April, forces loyal to Haftar had in fact conducted several attacks against the air base Tamenhant controlled by the 3rd Force, and distant about fifty miles from that of Brak al-Shati. The basis of Tamenhant, located near the city of Sebha, to more than 600 km south of Tripoli, is coveted for its strategic position. After his meeting with Fayez al-Sarraj, the marshal Haftar had effectively suspended its offensive in the south.
Aguila Saleh, the president of the elected Parliament, has condemned “the terrorist attack perpetrated by the militias of the 3rd Force and its allies,” seeing it as “a serious violation of the lull agreement reached in Abu Dhabi”. He indicated that he had given directives to the armed forces so that they shall take the necessary measures to respond to this offensive, to defend the South and the clean up of all militias outside of the law”. The RNG has called on his side to a cease-fire “immediate” in the south: “we still hope that reason prevails and that stops the escalation and provocation”. In addition to the protests in the East, the GNA, which was installed in march 2016 in Tripoli, also worth to control dozens of militias in the west of the country who claim their belonging to the forces of the RNG, but remain outside any control.