TRIPOLI: Militants loyal to Islamic State killed five members of a force loyal to the government that controls Tripoli and wounded two others in the coastal city of Sirte, aTripoli-based news agency said on Wednesday, citing a military spokesman.
Two military sources told Reuters the attack near the city’s power station on its western outskirts appeared to be a suicide bombing but no more details were immediately available.
Two governments and the forces that back them are vying for for power four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi. A group called Libya Dawn reinstated a previous assembly inTripoli in August and the internationally recognised administration is now based in the east.
Militants loyal to Islamic State, the group which controls much of Syria and Iraq, have exploited the turmoil by expanding in eastern and central Libya in recent months. They have taken over government offices, universities and a radio station in Sirte in the last few weeks.
Forces loyal to the Tripoli government, sent to Sirte from the western city of Misrata, have clashed several times with the militants and had set up checkpoints near the power station.
The region east of Sirte has been a battlefield since December when a force loyal to Libya Dawn tried to seize Libya’s biggest oil ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, but both remain under the control of forces loyal to the recognised Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni.
The militants loyal to Islamic State have claimed responsibility for an attack on Tripoli’s luxuryCorinthia hotel in January, as well as the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts from Sirte.