Libyan general’s forces blame deadly airstrike on rivals

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A spokesman for Libyan forces based in the east accused a rival militia allied with the U.N.-backed government of carrying out an airstrike Tuesday that killed at least six women and a child.

Ahmed al-Mesmari, the spokesman for forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Hifter, told the LANA news agency that fighter jets bombed families near the central district of Jufra. He accused the “militias of Misrata” of killing civilians while targeting Hifter’s forces. He said no fighters were killed.

Reda Eissa, a media official with the Misrata forces, denied the reports, saying that his forces did not launch airstrikes in that area on Tuesday.

Jufra is a three-hour drive south of Sirte, where forces from the western city of Misrata are battling the Islamic State group.

Libya was plunged into chaos by the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi, and is now split between rival authorities.

The Misrata militia is allied with a U.N.-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli. Hifter’s forces are allied with the Libyan parliament, which meets in the eastern city of Tobruk and has rejected the U.N.-brokered government.

A helicopter crashed near Tobruk late Monday, killing all six people on board, including Hifter’s military adviser. The Tobruk Medical Center said the adviser’s son was also on board the helicopter.

The Libyan news portal al-Wasat quoted Col. Al-Safi al-Sanini as saying that the MI8 helicopter was on an official mission to Ras Lanuf oil terminal, once of three such facilities captured by Hifter’s forces last week. The debris was found 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Tobruk.

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