Airstrike by Libya Strongman Kills 43 in Growing Proxy War

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(Bloomberg) -- A drone strike carried out by forces loyal to eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar killed at least 43 people attending a meeting at a southern town, a local official said, in the latest eruption of violence in an increasingly deadly proxy war between regional powers.

The strike came about a month after another attack killed at least 40 people in a migrant detention center in a suburb of the capital, Tripoli. The internationally-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj said Haftar’s forces were responsible for that incident.

Libya was plunged into chaos following the 2011 ouster and killing of its leader, Moammar Qaddafi, and the country that sits atop Africa’s largest proven reserves of crude is governed by rival governments in the west and the east.

The stakes have increased significantly over the past year, particularly after Haftar launched an offensive on the capital in April that has left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced tens of thousands more. Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while Al-Sarraj is backed by Turkey.

The overnight attack in Morzuq, in southern Libya, came as residents were holding a town meeting, Mohamed Omar, a member of the city council, said by phone. Forty others were wounded, he said. Earlier reports had said the drone had struck a wedding party.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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