Libya says air force strikes 'smuggler hideouts'

Libya says air force strikes 'smuggler hideouts'
Libyan airstrikes targeted suspected smugglers in a western coastal city on Thursday.
2 min read
Libya has witnessed more than a decade of violence since the 2011 conflict [Getty/archive]

Libya's Tripoli-based Government of National Unity announced Thursday its aircraft had carried out strikes against suspected smugglers on the Mediterranean coast west of the capital.

"Our national air force carried out precise and targeted air strikes this morning against hideouts used by gangs of smugglers in fuel, narcotics and humans in the western coastal region," the UN-recognised government's defence ministry said in a statement.

The strikes, carried out by "order of the prime minister" Abdelhamid Dbeibah, "successfully hit their targets," according to the statement released on Facebook.

The ministry's statement did not elaborate on the sites targeted or provide any information about any casualties.

Libyan media reported the strikes targeted the area around Zawiya, a coastal city about 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of the capital.

Zawiya has seen several weeks of clashes between armed groups suspected of involvement in human trafficking and smuggling of fuel and other contraband goods.

Libyan news websites said the strikes were carried out by drones and caused damage in the area of Al-Maya port, east of Zawiya.

More than a decade of violence in Libya since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has seen armed groups fighting for power and influence with impunity.

The North African country, which is awash with weapons, is split between a nominally interim government in Tripoli in the west, and another in the east backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Armed groups have exploited the chaos to fund their activities through the trafficking of migrants and smuggling of goods.