IS 'executes' rival fighters after revolt in central Libya

IS 'executes' rival fighters after revolt in central Libya
Islamic State has killed and displayed the bodies of members of a rival group in the Libyan city of Sirte, residents said.
3 min read
16 August, 2015
IS has exploited the chaos in Libya. [Getty]

So called Islamic State group has executed and displayed the bodies of four members of a rival group which had staged a revolt against the militants in the central Libyan city of Sirte, residents said.

Islamic State has crushed in the past few days a revolt by a Salafist Muslim group and armed residents trying to break its grip on the city, located some 500 km to the east of Tripoli. As many as 70 people have been killed, according to residents.

As a warning to others, Islamic State killed four fighters from the rival side and hung their corpses on metal gibbets for public display, four residents told Reuters. Pictures on social media, whose authenticity could not be verified, showed two bodies hanging from a gibbet.

Islamic State militants, who have gained a foothold in Libya by exploiting chaos and a security vacuum, also destroyed houses in Sirte belonging to rival fighters, residents said.

     The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Cairo to discuss the situation in Libya.

The fighting typifies the chaos in Libya, where two rival governments and parliaments, together with an assortment of Islamists, tribesmen and armed groups, are battling for control of cities and regions, four years after the fall of veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In separate violence on Sunday, unknown gunmen fired on the airport of the main eastern city Benghazi, partly destroying a passenger terminal, the airport's director said. The airport has been closed since last year due to ongoing fighting between forces loyal to the official government and Islamist groups. 

Rockets also landed in a residential district in the eastern city of Derna, from which Islamic State was expelled by a rival group in June, residents said. Islamic State started an offensive last week to try retake the port city, a hot spot for jihadi fighters.

The internationally recognised government has been based in eastern Libya since losing control of the capital Tripoli a year ago to a rival group, which set up its own administration. 

On Saturday, the official government asked fellow Arab states to stage air strikes against Islamic State in Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, which neither Libyan government controls.

The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Cairo to discuss the situation in Libya, Egyptian state television said.   

Both governments have conducted air strikes against Islamic State in Sirte in recent days but their capabilities are very limited, relying on outdated warplanes and helicopters from the Gaddafi era and lacking precision guns.

It was not clear how Arab states would respond. An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched air strikes in Yemen in late March in an effort to stop the Houthi movement spreading across the country from the north.
Libya's ambassador to France, Chibani Abuhamoud, said on Friday that fighting in Sirte had left between 150 and 200 dead.   

"A real massacre is taking place, and we call on the international community to intervene," the diplomat said.

The ambassador answers to Libya's internationally recognised government.

Authorities in Tripoli, which was seized last year by a militia alliance known as Fajr Libya, announced on Tuesday the launch of an operation to liberate Sirte, 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Tripoli.

Media loyal to the Tripoli authorities said warplanes were bombing armed groups linked to IS in Sirte. 

The Libyan ambassador said the fighting erupted after IS assassinated earlier this week an influential imam from the powerful Al-Farjan tribe. 

The jihadists have since been "massacring people, even killing people in their homes," Abuhamoud charged.

Late Friday, the Dar al-Iftaa Muslim organisation that issues religious decrees issued a statement calling on Libyans to mobilise against IS. 

"All Libyans able to carry weapons must mobilise to confront this cancer which is trying to destroy our Muslim nation," said the statement.