World Bulletin / News Desk
At least 28 people were killed and dozens injured Tuesday when a rocket hit an armory in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, local sources said.
Armed militia intended to loot shops in the Garabulli district but faced resistance from locals, according to witnesses and hospital personnel said.
Militants saw young people from the local population blocking the roads and moving toward an armory to protect themselves, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to security reasons.
One of the militants then launched a rocket-propelled grenade targeted at the armory, which belonged to Libya’s National Forces Alliance (NFA), a political bloc that supports the country’s UN-backed unity government.
The attack comes hours after five troops loyal to the UN-backed government were killed in clashes with ISIL in the northern city of Sirte neighboring Tripoli, while dozens of ISIL militants were killed.
Sixteen troops loyal to the NFA were reportedly injured in clashes with ISIL, according to hospital sources in Libya’s northwestern city of Misurata.
Since 2015, Sirte has been held by ISIL, which took advantage of the conflict between Libya’s rival political camps to seize 250 kilometers (155 miles) of coastline near the Mediterranean city, which lies between Libya’s eastern and western power bases.
In April, forces loyal to the UN-backed unity government launched an offensive aimed at recapturing the coastal city from the notorious extremist group.
Libya has been locked in a state of violence and turmoil since 2011 when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government -- one in Tobruk and another in capital Tripoli -- each boasting its own military capacity and legislative assembly.
The unity government came about late last year after Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement in an effort to resolve the country’s six-year political standoff.