5 Libyan Islamist militants killed in airstrikes by unidentified warplanes   2014-08-19 02:59:56            

TRIPOLI, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Several unidentified warplanes bombed Islamist militants in Libya's volatile capital of Tripoli on Monday, killing five and injuring several, according to sources.

The fighter jets launched airstrikes on camps near the airport highway in Tripoli where an Islamist armed group from Misrata was stationed, said Alaa Dweik, spokesperson of the militant group Central Libya Shield.

Dweik added that five militants were killed. Tripoli's Medical Center and Mitiga hospital reported they received a number of injured after the airstrikes.

Some local witnesses said the Tripoli's Mitiga air base, which is currently in the hands of the Islamist fighters, was also bombed after reports of loud explosions.

Renegade general Khalifa Haftar claimed the responsibility for the airstrikes. Haftar launched his so-called anti-terrorism military campaign targeting Islamist militants in May.

Libya's Air Staff issued a statement later Monday, saying that it has received evidence showing that the airstrikes were launched by foreign warplanes.

The air force suspected the warplanes were not from local bases, adding that Haftar's jets, mostly based in Tobruk, could not reach Tripoli without refueling and none of his jets could carry out bombing missions at night, while adding that the planes were equipped with guided bombs and smart bombs.

A Libyan TV channel reported that the warplanes belonged to the Italian Air Force, but Italian Ambassador to Libya Joseph Jerima denied Italy's involvement in the incident.

Since July 13, clashes between Islamist armed groups and pro- secular militias in Tripoli have left at least 102 people dead and 452 others wounded. Meanwhile, in eastern Benghazi, fierce fighting has continued between the army and Islamist militant groups, who are now in control of most of the city.

As the clashes intensify, a number of countries have evacuated their embassies and citizens from Libya.

The North African country has witnessed a drastic escalation of violence since the 2011 turmoil, which toppled its former leader Muammar Gaddafi. The recent deadly clashes between rival armed factions in major cities including Tripoli, Benghazi, Gharyan, Zawiya, have raised fears that the conflict could turn into a full- fledged civil war.

Editor: yan
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