Airstrike On Libya Migrant Centre. AFP

The Nigerian government has said that nine of its nationals were killed in an air strike on a migrant detention centre in Libya that has sparked international outrage.

Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry in Abuja said on Thursday that preliminary findings by a diplomatic mission that visited the hangar in the suburb of Tajoura “have confirmed that nine Nigerian men lost their lives.”

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The ministry said in a statement that “The mission has identified and taken custody of three women, one man, a toddler and a 10-year-old boy.”

The United Nations had said that 44 people were killed and more than 130 severely wounded in the attack.

And the foreign ministry said it was waiting for “a list from the centre to ascertain whether there are other Nigerians affected by the blast”.

It called for “an independent investigation with a view to bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice”.

Meanwhile, the UN has said the attack in Tripoli on Tuesday night could constitute a war crime, while Libya’s internationally recognised government and its arch-foe strongman Khalifa Haftar trade blame for the assault.

Wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising against dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has become a major conduit for migrants seeking to reach Europe and remains prey to numerous militias vying for control of the country’s oil wealth.

Violence has flared since Haftar in April launched an offensive to seize the capital, where the rival Government of National Accord is based.

Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, and their plight has worsened since the assault on the capital started.