TRIPOLI: Rocket fire on the Libyan capital Tripoli, which the UN-recognised government blamed on military strongman Khalifa Haftar, killed six people ahead of a Security Council meeting over a ceasefire.
Diplomats have long complained that Libyan peace efforts have been stymied by major powers backing the rival sides, with Haftar ally Russia quibbling over the proposed wording of the ceasefire demand even as the bombardment of Tripoli intensifies.
Three of the six killed in the rocket fire on the south Tripoli neighbourhoods of Abu Salim and Al-Antisar late on Tuesday were women, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.
Abu Salim mayor Abdelrahman al-Hamdi confirmed the death toll and said 35 other people were wounded.
AFP journalists heard seven loud explosions as rockets also hit the city centre, the first since Haftar's Libyan National Army militia launched an offensive on April 4 to capture the capital from the government and its militia allies.
The LNA blamed the rocket fire on the "terrorist militias" whose grip on the capital it says it is fighting to end.
The bombardment came as diplomats at the UN Security Council began negotiations on a British-drafted resolution that would demand an immediate ceasefire in Libya.
The proposed text seen by AFP warns that the offensive by Haftar's LNA "threatens the stability of Libya and prospects for a United Nations-facilitated political dialogue and a comprehensive political solution to the crisis."
After Britain circulated the text late Monday, a first round of negotiations was held during which Russia raised objections to references criticising Haftar, diplomats said.
"They were very clear. No reference anywhere," a council diplomat said.
During a tour of the Tripoli neighbourhoods worst hit by the rocket fire on Tuesday night, unity government head Fayez al-Sarraj said the Security Council must hold Haftar to account for his forces´ "savagery and barbarism".
"It's the legal and humanitarian responsiblity of the Security Council and the international community to hold this criminal responsible for his actions," Sarraj said in footage of the tour released by his office.
He said his government would seek Haftar's prosecution for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.