Friday, May 6, 2016 2:48 pm
Islamic State (IS) has, according to NAN, captured a Libyan town after a surprise attack, expanding the extremist group’s influence in the troubled country, a media report said on Friday.
According to the report, militants overran the town of Abu Qrain, located around 140 kilometres from the central coast city of Sirte, IS’s stronghold in Libya.
On Thursday, IS attacked Abu Qrain, triggering clashes with militiamen from the western city of Misrat fighting to keep control of Abu Qrain.
“Daesh elements in Sirte fired celebratory shots in the air expressing their joy over occupying Abu Qrain,” a Sirte resident told newsmen, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
However, the report could not be independently verified. Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 revolt, which toppled long time dictator Moamer Gaddafi. IS has taken advantage of the chaos to establish a foothold in Libya.
The al-Qaeda splinter group has been in control of Sirte for more than a year.
Since mid-2014, Libya has been split up between two administrations one based in Tobruk and the other in Tripoli with each backed by competing militias.
A national unity government, formed under a UN-sponsored peace deal, arrived in Tripoli in March amid international hoped it would be able to re-establish stability and stop IS’s expansion in the oil-rich country.
However, the government, led by lawmaker Fayez Sarraj, has yet to win a vote of confidence by the elected parliament based in Tobruk before it could take power.