The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been reluctant to discuss the details of an ambush on one of its convoys in Zawia, 45 km west of the capital Tripoli, other than to say that the team has been freed.

The UN confirmed that a five-car convoy carrying 13 UN staff, human rights specialists who were visiting the Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) in Sorman, was attacked at the Farouk Bridge checkpoint while on its way back to Tripoli on Wednesday afternoon.

The first vehicle sped away and reached Tripoli where its occupants reached safety in a protected compound, the Libya Herald reported.

Those travelling in the second vehicle stopped to get their colleagues out of the damaged SUV. All seven of them were then taken by locals to a place of safety, where the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) was making arrangements for their return to Tripoli.

The third vehicle in the convoy was hit by an RPG, while the fourth and fifth vehicles with three UN personnel aboard turned round and headed to Tunisia.

The reluctance of the UN to discuss in depth what transpired until a later date was based on wanting to first ascertain that all personnel and their guards were out of danger.

UNSMIL also refused to provide the identities of the seven personnel and their accompanying security guards.

Nevertheless, outgoing UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler thanked the GNA, the House of Representatives (HoR) members for Zawia, and the local authorities for helping to ensure the safety of the UN staff.

There were no injuries reported in the attacks and the UN personnel had managed to make contact with headquarters.

However, a photograph published on social media showed one of the UNSMIL vehicles with two damaged side windows fitted with bullet-proof glass, and oil pouring from the front of the engine.

According to one report, the convoy was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

Another witness said that three of the vehicles had managed to escape but one was caught and that two people had been injured – a claim that remains unverified.

In other developments, at least three Libyan National Army (LNA) soldiers were killed during heaving fighting in Benghazi’s Sabri district in eastern Libya as LNA forces continued to battle Islamic militants for control of the area.

A significant number of LNA soldiers were also wounded in the battle and despite the LNA failing to release precise casualty figures, a steady stream of ambulances were seen taking the wounded away from the frontline.

– By ANA