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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

UN condemns ISIS assault on Libyan town 

At least four people were killed during Sunday's flash assault, including two who were executed in public

Fighters of the Libyan forces affiliated to the Tripoli government rest and reload weapons during combat against Islamic State militants, in Sirte, Libya, AP
Fighters of the Libyan forces affiliated to the Tripoli government rest and reload weapons during combat against Islamic State militants, in Sirte, Libya, AP

ISIS overran the central Libyan town of Al Fuqaha and set fire to government buildings before executing at least four people and kidnapping nine others over the weekend.

The attack was condemned on Monday night by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, officials of which said they were “deeply concerned about the increasingly fragile security situation in central Libya.

"[The UNSIL] calls on Libyans to set their differences aside and co-operate to defeat the terrorist threat imperiling the stability and security of their country,” it said.

Militants set fire to local government and security offices in Sunday’s attack on the desert town of Al Fuqaha in the Jufra district . In a statement posted on Facebook, the Jufra Municipal Council said that militants attacked the city with 25 vehicles, terrorising residents and torching buildings.

Pictures published on social media networks by the Jufra Municipal Council after the assault showed charred walls and burnt-out vehicles.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released by Aamaq.

According to UNSMIL, two of the four killed during the take over were executed in public. Municipal council member Abdellatif Jalala said that at least one policeman was among the deceased.

The 128th Infantry Battalion of the Libya National Army (LNA) responded to the attack but militants fled south towards the town of Sebha. ISIS claims it targeted an LNF vehicle that was chasing them through desert roads with an explosive device, destroying the vehicle and killing and wounding those on board. LNF officials were unavailable for comment.

The battalion published photos and videos of its troops arriving in the town. In one graphic video, published on Facebook, the battalion purports to show the burnt remains of a corpse in one of the town’s buildings. The identity of the victim was not immediately clear.

Local authorities say that Sunday’s attack comes in retaliation for the recent capture of a local ISIS leader. Earlier this month, the 128th Infantry Battalion announced that it had captured a local ISIS emir overseeing the group’s presence in parts of the coastal Sirte district.

The town of Al Fuqaha lies in an area marked by poor security deep in the desert where ISIS withdrew after losing its stronghold Sirte on the central coast in December 2016.

The LNA had recently boosted its presence in the area, moving into Al Foqha as part of efforts to push south.

The region has been regularly hit by attacks attributed to extremist militants. In August 2017, an attack claimed by ISIS killed 11 people, including nine LNA fighters.