Islamist militants in Libya beheaded at least 11 people, mainly soldiers, in an attack in the early hours of Wednesday (23 August). The attack targeted a checkpoint in the Al-Jufra region controlled by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
“At least nine soldiers were beheaded… in addition to two civilians” at the checkpoint about 500km south of Tripoli, Colonel Ahmad Al-Mesmari was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
Although no group has claimed responsibility so far, local officials suspect the Islamic State (Isis) is behind the attack. The jihadist group that is on the verge of being driven out of their strongholds in Iraq and Syria is believed to be still active in Libya.
Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army took control of Al-Jufra in June and seized key locations including a military base in the area. In May, his forces had seized the Tamenhant base near the southern city of Sebha after driving out a militia run by the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
Haftar refuses to the accept the GNA administration and rather backs a rival group. Meanwhile, Haftar’s forces also face attacks from Islamist extremist groups like Isis operating in the country.
The in-fighting in Libya between groups trying to establish their government at the national level has reportedly helped militant groups to spread their foothold in the country.
The conflict in Libya began in 2011 after the killing of long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a Nato-backed revolution.