The Italian government on Wednesday deplored an overnight air raid on a migrant holding centre in the Libyan capital Tripoli that killed at least 40 people including women and children and injured scores, according to officials.
"I was bewildered to know of the night-time airstrikes on Tajura, near Tripoli, that hit a migrant shelter, causing the death of dozens of persons, including women and children," Italy's foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said in a statement.
"Our clear condemnation of the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas goes with our appeal to stop the escalation in hostilities, which continuously puts human lives at great risk and destroys essential infrastructure for the population," Moaovero added.
He called the attack "yet another tragedy that reveals the terrible impact that war has on the civilian population".
The internationally recognised government in Tripoli blamed eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar's forces for the nightime attack on the migrant shelter in Tajoura suburb located next to a military camp.
But an official from Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army denied his force had hit the detention centre, saying militias allied to Tripoli had shelled it after a precision airstrike by the LNA on a camp.
Tajoura, east of Tripoli’s centre, is home to several military camps of forces allied to Libya’s internationally recognised government, which have been targeted by airstrikes for weeks amid the ongoing battle for the capital between the LNA and forces allied with the United Nations backed government.
Moavero urged measures to protect civilians in Tripoli and the transfer of migrants hosted in government-run detention centres "to safe places away from the fighting and under the protection of the UN.”
Thousands of migrants are being held in western Libya in what human rights groups and the UN describe as often inhuman conditions.