A unit of the Libyan National Army stationed in the south-eastern oasis town of Kufra says that it has smashed a gang of rebel Sudanese gunmen from Darfur operating a checkpoint 200 kilometres north of the town.
LNA commander Abdurrahman Hashim is quoted as saying that his men launched a surprise attack on the Burazeg checkpoint yesterday, killing 20 members of the gang, capturing six and destroying five of their vehicles. Four soldiers from his Subul Assalam unit were injured in the operation, he stated.
A local Kufra council official added that the army was supported by air strikes.
The gunmen are claimed to have used the checkpoint to rob travellers hold them for ransom or even kill them. They are reported as being members of both the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). These are not the same, although one splinter group of the SLM joined with former members of JEM in 2010.
JEM, which became the major rebel force in Darfur at the height of the uprising there was backed by Qaddafi and during the revolution, it acted as his army in and around Kufra. According to a local Kufra council official, the gang moved into the area four months ago.