Tripoli-The United Nations has deplored the “grotesque” use of improvised explosive devices against civilians in Libya’s capital Tripoli, the scene of more than a year of deadly fighting.

The UN mission in Libya said it “strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians who must be protected under international humanitarian law.”

In a statement released late on Monday, it voiced alarm about reports that residents of the Ain Zara and Salaheddin districts in southern Tripoli had been killed or wounded by IEDs placed in or near their homes.

“This grotesque transformation and deterioration of the conflict, (which) has occurred while families were seeking the safety and comfort of their homes for the Eid holiday, demonstrates deliberate targeting of innocent civilians.”

Libya is largely divided between forces backing the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, and those led by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who backs a rival administration in the east.

Haftar’s forces have led an offensive since April 2019 to capture the capital, but they have suffered several setbacks in recent weeks and have been forced to withdraw from some areas they held.

The battle for Tripoli has left hundreds dead, including civilians, and caused around 200,000 people to flee.

The GNA on Monday accused Haftar’s forces of planting mines in houses before pulling back from their positions in the south of the capital. It said two civilians were killed on Saturday as they returned home in Salaheddin, which has seen some of the worst of the fighting.