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Date TimeJuly 04, 2019
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Survivors of strike on Libyan migrant centre say they were made to work in weapons factory
Migrants who survived the deadly airstrike on a Libyan detention center said Thursday they had been conscripted by a local militia to work in an adjacent weapons workshop and were shot at as they tried to flee. The decision to store weapons at the facility in Tajoura, to the east of Tripoli, may have made it a target for the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which is at war with an array of militias allied with a weak, UN-recognised government in the capital. The Tripoli government has blamed Wednesday's pre-dawn strike, which killed at least 53 migrants and wounded more than 130, on the LNA and its foreign backers. The LNA, led by General Khalifa Haftar, says it targeted a nearby militia position but denies striking the hangar where the migrants were being held. Gen Haftar, whose forces control much of eastern and southern Libya, has received aid from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Russia. The UN said on Thursday it had information that Libyan guards shot at refugees and migrants trying to flee from the air strikes. "There are reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape," a report released by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. A satellite view of the migrant center near Tajoura before the air strikes Credit: DIGITALGLOBE/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX /SATELLITE IMAGE ©2019 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES The UN and aid groups have blamed the tragedy in part on the European Union's policy of partnering with Libyan militias to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to seek a better life in Europe. Critics of the policy say it leaves migrants at the mercy of brutal traffickers or confined in detention facilities near the front lines that often lack adequate food and water. Interior Minister Fathi Ali Bashagha said the Tripoli government was considering closing all detention centres for migrants and releasing the inmates. Around 6,000 migrants, most from elsewhere in Africa, are being held in Libya's detention centers after being intercepted by the EU-funded coast guard. Libya detention centre In Tajoura, hundreds of migrants are held in several hangars next to what appears to be a weapon cache. Two migrants told The Associated Press that for months they were sent day and night to the workshop inside the detention center. "We clean the anti-aircraft guns. I saw a large amount of rockets and missiles too," said a young migrant who has been held at Tajoura for nearly two years. Another migrant recounted a nearly two-year odyssey in which he fled war in his native country and was passed from one trafficker to another until he reached the Libyan coast. He boarded a boat that was intercepted by the coast guard, which later transferred him to Tajoura, where he was wounded in Wednesday's airstrike. "I fled from the war to come to this hell of Libya," he said. "My days are dark."




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