Cairo, Apr 8 (AP) Rockets rained down on Libya's capital Tripoli on Tuesday, health authorities in the U.N.-backed government said, the second day of heavy bombardment by eastern-based forces that struck one of the city's largest hospitals.
The barrage of Grad rockets hit Al-Khadra Hospital, where over 300 patients were being treated, including two for the coronavirus and many for shrapnel wounds and burns from bombs.
The assault, sharply condemned by the U.N, wounded a Bangladeshi medical worker Monday and forced a group of patients to evacuate when missiles hit part of the maternity unit and the power system failed, said Tripoli health ministry official Amin al-Hashemi. Patients suffering from chronic illnesses continued to be evacuated Tuesday.
In recent weeks eastern-based forces under the command of Khalifa Hifter have escalated their year-long siege on the capital, despite appeals for a cease-fire so authorities can focus their resources on the pandemic. Their attack on Al-Khadra was the third such strike on a Tripoli medical facility over the past month.
Emptying the wards as the bombs fell required a major logistical effort that put seriously ill people at risk, al-Hashemi added. The coronavirus patients remained isolated during their transfer to a safer facility.
Three civilians were wounded as shells crashed into cars and houses in the surrounding neighborhood of Abu Salim.
Yacoub El Hillo, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, said he was “appalled” by the attack, especially as the country's crippled health sector scrambles to confront a steadily rising coronavirus case count. Al-Khadra is one of the few facilities set aside to handle virus patients in the war-torn country.
“A deplorable strike like this, resulting in senseless damage of a most needed medical facility, cannot be justified,” he said.
Libya has confirmed 20 cases of the coronavirus, most in the country's west. (AP)
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