Fierce clashes with ‘Islamic State’ turn deadly near Libya city of Sirte

Friday 15/05/2015
Exploiting turmoil

TRIPOLI - Islamic State fighters battled forces loyal to a self-declared Libyan government based in Tripoli on Wednesday, killing one person and wounding seven near the Mediterranean city of Sirte, an official said.

Militants supporters of Islamic State have exploited the turmoil in Libya, where two governments and parliaments are fighting for control four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Taking advantage of the security vacuum, just as Islamic State did in Syria and Iraq, the militants have seized parts of Sirte, Gaddafi's home town east of Tripoli.

Fighting broke out on Wednesday near Sirte between Islamic State fighters and forces sent from the western city of Misrata, officials and Misrata residents said.

One member of the Misrata-based Brigade 166 was killed and seven were wounded, Jamal Zubia, a spokesman for the Tripoli-based government, said in a message on social media.

Islamic State said in a Twitter message its fighters had seized a camp of the Misrata forces in southeast Sirte.

The group published pictures purportedly showing its fighters at the camp, seizing several vehicles. A resident, asking not to be named, said the camp seemed to be in the hands of Islamic State.

Islamic State militants have in recent months claimed responsibility for several attacks including the storming of a Tripoli hotel and the murder of dozens of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians.

Libya's internationally recognised government has been based in the east along with the elected parliament since a rival faction seized the capital in August and reinstated a previous assembly.

Islamic State for its part has also built up a presence in Derna, an eastern city known as jihadi hotspot, and the main eastern city of Benghazi.