Unidentified aircraft attacked several locations in Libya’s eastern city of Derna on October 30, 2017, killing 16 civilians and critically wounding 4 children. Derna medical sources said that most victims were from the same extended family and included 12 children, ages 2 to 16.
The Libyan National Army forces (LNA), which has conducted airstrikes on Derna targets in the past months, denied any involvement in the attack in a televised statement, blaming “terrorists” and promising an investigation. Medical sources said that no fighters were known to have been killed or injured in this attack.
“An aircraft bombs a Libyan city and kills 16 civilians, yet none of the warring parties accepts responsibility for the attack or names the intended military target,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Derna residents run the risk of repeat incidents unless authorities start making good on their promise to investigate and hold those responsible for unlawful attacks to account.”
The LNA, under the command of Gen. Khalifa Hiftar, imposed a siege on Derna in August 2016 in an effort to drive out fighters from the militant alliance Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC). The DMSC, which opposes the LNA, has controlled the city since participating in ousting the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS), in April 2016.
Human Rights Watch spoke by phone on October 30 and 31 with Dr. Mansour Ben Fayed, the director of Derna’s main hospital, who said that the October 30 airstrikes hit two locations, one in the al-Fatayeh neighborhood and the other in the rural area of al-Arqam.
Ben Fayed said that Derna’s main hospital received 13 of the 16 people killed. The three others died in their home in al-Arqam and were buried without being taken to the hospital. Ben Fayed said the 13 brought to the hospital were all women and children who had been attending an event at a private house. He said that the hospital also treated the four injured children.