Up to 30 people have been killed in the Libyan city of Sirte as Islamic State fighters are shelling residential areas indiscriminately in reaction to an uprising, reports from Libya say.
On Wednesday, numerous clashes took place in the former Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte between locals and fighters from the Islamic State which has controlled the town for the past three months.
According to reports, 30 people were killed in the clashes and bombings as IS fighters retaliated but information is hard to verify from the city, which is under control of Islamic State fighters.
— Nadia Ramadan (@NadiaR_LY) August 13, 2015
Earlier, reports emerging from Sirte said that local insurgents had taken control of the city’s port and neighbourhood No. 3 while clashes in the the south-east of Sirte saw various tribes join forces agianst IS.
In recent days, fighters loyal to Daesh fought separate battles with forces from Libya’s internationally recognised government and with a rival Salafist group on Wednesday, as growing violence threatened to make UN-mediated peace efforts irrelevant.
The oil-rich North African country is in chaos as two rival governments and parliaments vie for power, while Islamic State and other armed groups exploit a security vacuum four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
— Beyond The Levant (@TheRealBTL) August 12, 2015
The UN brought the main warring factions together in Geneva this week with the aim of ending the crisis within weeks, but the diplomacy was sidelined by new fighting.
Helicopters loyal to the internationally-recognised government based in eastern Libya bombed Islamic State positions in the central city of Sirte, said Ali al-Hassi, an air force spokesman.
Meanwhile, pictures posted on social media also showed eastern government forces, backed up by armed residents, firing artillery barrages at Islamic State positions on the outskirts of the eastern city of Derna.
The militant group launched an offensive this week to retake the city after a rival Islamist group had expelled it.
Libya’s official government has been working out of the east since losing the capital Tripoli a year ago to a rival group which set up its own administration in the capital. The official government’s forces have been also battling Islamists in Benghazi.