Libyan officials investigate the bombing of a detention center holding civilian migrants that killed dozens of people and injured more than 130, pictured on July 3, 2019. (H.Murdock/VOA)
Libyan officials investigate the bombing of a detention center holding civilian migrants that killed dozens of people and injured more than 130, pictured on July 3, 2019. (H. Murdock)

TRIPOLI - A spokesman for one of Libya's two rival armies has denied targeting civilians after an airstrike blamed on the armed group killed as many as 55 people in Tripoli on Tuesday night. 

The victims of Tuesday night’s bombing fled war, violence or extreme poverty, risking their lives to find a safe place.

When they got to Libya, they found Europe had tightened its borders, and many of their boats were returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard.

Survivors evacuated the crumbled detention center and spent the night outside while officials searched for the injured and the dead on July 3, 2019 in Tripoli, Libya. (H. Murdock)

Then, detained and hoping for another chance to travel to Europe, they were caught up in a war that had nothing to do with them.

The bomb, dropped by a drone, hit a building inside an Interior Ministry compound Tuesday night.

The U.N. says the bombing could amount to a war crime and has called for an investigation on July 3, 2019 in Tripoli, Libya. (H. Murdock)

On the morning after, investigators searched the rubble for bodies while dozens of survivors looked on.  They had spent the night outside, without food or water, as emergency services rescued whoever they could.

“As you see there are a lot of people that died because we are looking for a better life," said a migrant.  "[They] kill us.  We are looking for a better life.  We are not going to stay here.  We need to cross the Mediterranean Sea.  It’s not means we are going to terrorism.”

Libya has essentially been ruled by two governments for roughly five years.  The two sides have been battling now for three months, after Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army in the east, vowed to re-unite Libya by force.  

The Government of National Accord, based in the capital, has fended off the attacks on Tripoli, but the local population has paid a heavy price.  Nearly 800 people have been killed, and at least 94,000 have been injured since fighting erupted in early April.

Around noon the day after the bombing, survivors said they were out of water and food on July 3, 2019 in Tripoli, Libya. (H. Murdock)

GNA officials say the detention center was not a military target, and are accusing the Libyan National Army of war crimes.

The LNA has neither confirmed nor denied bombing the detention center, though a spokesman denied the group targets civilians, saying the LNA only attacks military sites.