TRIPOLI, Libya

Twenty-five people have died while clearing landmines planted by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militias in southern Tripoli, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

The agency of the internationally-recognized government said Haftar’s militias planted high-explosive Russian-made mines in populated areas in southern Tripoli.

Officers, including explosives engineers, from the ministry’s mining clearance teams have been killed during operations.

“So far, 1,510 mines have been cleared including anti-tank mines,” it said and warned residents not to hurry to return to their homes until clearing operations are completed.

Last month, the Libyan army accused Haftar’s militias of planting high-explosive mines in the areas they left in Ain Zara and Salaheddin areas southern Tripoli.

In March, the government launched Operation Peace Storm to counter attacks on the capital, and recently regained strategic locations, including the Al-Watiya airbase, in a major blow to Haftar’s forces.

On Tuesday, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said Haftar agreed to resuming cease-fire talks.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by Haftar’s forces.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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