Libya’s warring sides agree on temporary truce in Tripoli battle

Rival Libyan forces said they had agreed to a temporary truce proposed by the United Nations (UN) during the upcoming Muslim Eid al-Adha.

Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), agreed to the UN-proposed truce on Saturday, according to LNA official Ahmed al-Mesmari.

Khalifa’s forces had been fighting to capture the capital Tripoli from a rival government backed by the UN, leaving thousands of people displaced on the outskirts of Tripoli.

Al-Mesmari said Haftar’s forces would observe the ceasefire from Saturday until Monday.

“However, we will respond to any security or military threat,” he added at a news conference, without elaborating.

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Libyan news portal Africa Gate quoted al-Mesmari as saying that the LNA forces were observing the truce from 3 pm (1300 GMT) on Saturday.

The Tripoli-based government had earlier said that it had accepted a “humanitarian” truce during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Sunday.

Earlier Saturday, a car bomb exploded in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, killing three employees of the UN mission in the country, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

Guterres condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” and called on all parties to respect the truce and return to the negotiating table.

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Three other UN employees were among the injured, the statement said.

Earlier reports attributed to medical and security sources in Libya said two employees of the UN mission had been killed.

One of those killed was a Libyan citizen, while the second was a foreign woman whose nationality was not clear yet, said Khalil Quedar, a spokesman at the Benghazi Medical Centre.

Ten other people were injured in the bombing that took place outside a bank.

The attack targeted a UN convoy, according to a local security official.

So far, there has been no claim of responsibility.

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Benghazi was the birthplace of the the revolt that toppled long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi in 2011.

As a result of the ensuing civil war, the city descended into chaos and was at times controlled by an alliance of Islamist militants.

In 2017, Haftar’s loyalists took over the city, where last year at least 33 people were killed in twin car bombings that struck close to a mosque in Benghazi.

Haftar, who already controls much of eastern Libya, has expanded his foothold in the oil-rich country in recent months.

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