Benghazi, Libya — Citing aerial attacks, use of heavy weaponry and civilian casualties in Benghazi and elsewhere in eastern Libya, the United Nations today called for an end to the bloodshed and urged the country's officials to agree on precise means to counter terrorism and other challenges to security and state authority.
In particular, through a formal statement released in Tripoli, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said that "the persistence and increasing range of clashes involving heavy weaponry and aerial attacks need to be addressed immediately to ensure the situation does not deteriorate to dangerous levels.
"In this regard, UNSMIL calls for ceasing the bloodshed and allowing an opportunity for political efforts to take their course," it said.
The Mission added that the increase in terrorist acts in the eastern region of the country, as well as the continuous targeting of both the military and civilians, constitutes an evident challenge to state authority.
That challenge "necessitates an agreement on precise means and mechanisms to counter terrorism within the framework of the state institutions," with the support of all parties that "shun terrorist practices," UNSMIL said.
The first months of this year witnessed a dramatic increase in violence in Libya, some of the worst since the 2011 uprising that ousted former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, according to the head of UNSMIL, Tarek Mitri, including targeted assassinations, bombings and abductions as well as the wholesale fighting being witnessed now in Benghazi.
In today's statement, UNSMIL called on authorities to take the initiative to respond to this violence, "as it poses a threat to the modern civil state project, to the opportunities for stability, and to Libyan foreign relations, both regional and international."