Libya migrants recount horrors of Tajoura detention centre attack

Written by on July 4, 2019

After air raids on a detention centre near Libya‘s Tripoli killed dozens of refugees and migrants on Tuesday night, word of the attack quickly spread among migrants held across the country. 

Survivors of the raid on the facility in Tajoura recounted the horrors of the attack via WhatsApp messages to Al Jazeera, describing how aid and medical workers trawled through the rubble, as the detainees sat outside of the bombed-out hangar where they were held.

The death toll of the attack was expected to rise, the migrants said, as more body parts were being discovered among debris and the belongings of the structure’s former inhabitants.

Survivors told Al Jazeera that a projectile first hit a small store on the grounds near where they were being held, before a second attack, minutes later, made a direct hit on one of the halls migrants stayed in.

“The first shot turned the place [into a] big mess, people started escaping,” said a Sudanese man via Twitter messages. “Police opened fire in the air beside the cell. Ten minutes later the second hit.”

More than 600 men, women and children were being held in Tajoura detention centre, sources told Al Jazeera. It is not clear what happened to those who survived the attack. 

The total number of migrants and refugees held in detention centres across Libya is about 6,000, according to the Libyan Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM). 

At least 3,000 of them are being held in or near the capital, Tripoli, which has been under siege by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar‘s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) since April.

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