‘Bomb Italian ships!’ Shock as Muslim general THREATENS Italy over migrant rules


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‘Bomb Italian ships!’ Shock as Libyan general THREATENS Italy over migrant rules

LIBYA has ordered its military to bomb Italian ships in a shocking threat to naval fleets heading to the coast to help with the migrant crisis.

August 4, 2017, By Vickiie Oliphant, The Express:

The Italian government authorised the country’s navy to carry out the mission on Wednesday, in a bid to stop refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea and heading to Europe.

But the presence of Italian ships in Libyan waters provoked furious reactions from the north African country.

And General Khalifa Haftar, who controls most of the east of Libya, ordered his forces to bomb any ships engaged in the upcoming naval support mission according to a tweet by news site Al Arabiya.

The tweet read: “#Haftar orders bombing of #Italian warships requested by Sarraj.”

Gen Haftar’s forces are thought to be unlikely to open fire on the naval rescue mission ships.

But the threat could further complicate the already delicate project and further strain relations between the general and the country’s UN-backed government in Tripoli.

The Libyan National Army said in a statement: “Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, issues orders to the Libyan naval bases in Tobruk, Benghazi, Ras Lanuf and Tripoli to confront any marine unit that enters the Libyan waters without the permission of the army.”

The order comes a few hours after Libya’s parliament in Tobruk also expressed its opposition to the Italian naval operation.

Ministers claimed the problem with the agreement for joint action to fight human traffickers is that Libya believes the presence of foreign ships would be a “violation of their national sovereignty”.The shocking warning comes after two Italian fishing boats were attacked by a vessel in Zarsis, off the border between Libya and Tunisia, in international waters.The boat, which apparently belonged to the Tunisian customs authorities, desisted and left.

Migrant crisis in LibyaEPA

The presence of Italian ships in Libyan waters provoked furious reactions

Italy agreed initially to deploy two ships, in the operation to help the Libyan coastguard and target people smugglers.The Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said there would be “no harm done or slight given to Libyan sovereignty”, before stressing the mission would not be a “blockade” preventing migrant boats from leaving.More than 94,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy so far this year according to the UN – a record number.(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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