Five dead in suspected Daesh attack in central Libya

The town is south of the coastal city of Sirte, a former Daesh bastion. (File/AFP)
Updated 29 October 2018
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Five dead in suspected Daesh attack in central Libya

  • The attack underlines the volatility of Libya’s central region, where Daesh and other armed groups operate
  • Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 uprising and is now governed by rival administrations

TRIPOLI: At least five people were killed Monday and 10 others kidnapped in an attack by suspected Daesh militants on a town in central Libya, local and military sources said.
Three civilians were among the dead, while a soldier was wounded and 10 people “missing, probably kidnapped,” said General Ahmed Al-Mesmari, spokesman for the Libyan National Army.
The raid targeted the desert town of Al-Fuqaha in Jufra district, which has for over a year been held by forces allied to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who leads the self-styled LNA.
LNA forces responded to the attack but the Daesh fighters fled south, killing a five victim and injuring another at a security checkpoint, Mesmari said.
Earlier, municipal council member Abdellatif Jalala told AFP that three civilians and a policeman had been killed in the dawn attack, more than 800 kilometers (490 miles) south of the capital Tripoli.
He said the assailants kidnapped at least eight others before fleeing into the Haruj mountains further south.
Jufra lawmaker Ismail Al-Sharif said Daesh fighters attacked the city with 25 vehicles, beheaded five civilians and torched local government and security offices.
The attackers set fire to police posts and public buildings in Al-Fuqaha, he added.
Both Sharif and Jalala said the raid was likely retaliation for arrests earlier this month of alleged Daesh members in the area.
The Jufra region has been regularly hit by attacks attributed to militants. In August 2017, an attack claimed by Daesh killed 11 people, including nine LNA fighters.
Daesh took advantage of the chaos that reigned in Libya after the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of Muammar Qaddafi to establish footholds in several parts of the country.
In June 2015, militants seized control of Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, only ceding it in December of the following year in the face of an offensive by forces loyal to the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
In April this year, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord launched an operation to track down Daesh fighters operating in areas of western Libya under its control.
The US military has regularly carried out strikes on militants in Libya, particularly south of Sirte.
Many militants have since retreated to desert areas in the country’s south, where they are attempting to regroup.
A September 10 suicide attack later claimed by Daesh on Libya’s National Oil Company headquarters in the heart of Tripoli left two dead and 10 others wounded.
Four months earlier, Daesh claimed an attack on Libya’s electoral commission headquarters in Tripoli that killed 14 people.


Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

Updated 34 min 28 sec ago
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Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA, Iraq: A rocket struck the site of the residential and operations headquarters of several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding three people, Iraq’s military said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. It came after two separate attacks in as many days on bases housing US military personnel in Iraq, as tension rose between the United States and Iran.
The rocket hit the Burjesia site west of the city, according to police and a statement released by the military. Police earlier said two Iraqi workers were wounded.
The United States evacuated hundreds of diplomatic staff from its Baghdad embassy last month, citing unspecified threats from Iran against US interests in neighboring Iraq, where Tehran supports some Shiite militias.
Wednesday’s incident came just as Exxon staff who were also evacuated after the diplomats’ departure had begun to return to Basra.
A security source said Exxon was evacuating 21 foreign staff immediately by plane to Dubai.
Oil officials said operations including exports from southern Iraq were not affected by the incident.
Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italy’s Eni SpA, the oil officials said.
The rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile, the military said. Police said it landed 100 meters from the part of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.
Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.
Washington has ramped up sanctions pressure on Iran in recent months and says it has sent additional forces to the region over tension with the Islamic Republic.
It blames Tehran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Tehran denies it was involved.
Both sides say they do not want war, but analysts warn such incidents could escalate violence in the region.